Oldest men's slalom winner proves unbeatable

Sport
Austria's Mario Matt skis to finish first during the second run of the men's alpine skiing slalom event at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center February 22, 2014. Picture: REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia - Austria's Mario Matt became the oldest Olympic alpine skiing champion in history on Saturday when the 34-year-old won a dramatic men's slalom in front of favourite Marcel Hirscher.

Matt, a two-time slalom world champion, proved unbeatable over the two runs, finishing with a combined time of 1min 41.84sec to close the skiing competitions at the Sochi Games.

His compatriot Hirscher, the reigning world champion, finished second at 0.28sec, with young Norwegian sensation Henrik Kristoffersen taking bronze at 0.83sec.

While Matt beat Norwegian legend Kjetil Andre Aamodt for the mantle of oldest winner, 19-year-old Kristoffersen became the youngest Olympic medallist in men's alpine skiing, a day after US teenager Mikaela Shiffrin smashed the record for youngest ever Olympic slalom champion.

Kristoffersen, who had won the last slalom going into the Olympics, was 15th after the first run but showed off a commanding performance to take the lead in the second.

But his lead didn't last long as 24-year-old Hirscher, with his typical attacking style, stormed down the course.

The Austrian slalom World Cup winner had made a faultless first run but had found himself in ninth place before battling back in impressive fashion.

The tricky course, set by Ante Kostelic -- father of 2010 Olympic silver medallist Ivica, who finished joint-ninth on Saturday -- caused a number of casualties among the favourites.

Felix Neureuther of Germany, who survived a minor car crash a week ago on his way to take his flight for Sochi, crashed out.

So did France's Alexis Pinturault, winner in Wengen last month, who had a slight advance on Hirscher but made an awkward jump and landed heavily on the snow.

US ski star and newly-crowned giant slalom champion Ted Ligety tried to battle down the slope but also went out, as did another French hope Jean-Baptiste Grange.

Kostelic is known for his tortuous courses and challenged the racers on Saturday with tightly-spaced gates straight out of the start.

Defending Olympic champion Giuliano Razzoli of Italy, 16th after the first run, also crashed out in the second round.

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