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Byggmark wins first World Cup event, takes lead in slalom standings

Byggmark wins first World Cup event, takes lead in slalom standings

Ski racing is a way of life when you come from Tarnaby, Sweden. Winning also seems to be the custom.
On Saturday, Jens Byggmark stunned the favorites to win his first World Cup slalom on Saturday and take the discipline leader's red jersey.
The 21-year-old Swede, who surprised the field with the fastest time in the opening leg, delivered a second brilliant run down the Ganslern course to win with a combined time of 1 minute, 43.74 seconds.
"It's pretty much a tradition to ski race when you live in Tarnaby," said Byggmark, who hails from the same small village in Lapland in northern Sweden as ski legend Ingemar Stenmark, who won an unprecedented 86 World Cup races.
"I know him pretty well but we're not buddies," Byggmark said of Stenmark. "I've come across him all my life on the slopes there."
Stenmark won the prestigious Kitzbuehel slalom five times in his career.
Two-time overall champion Anja Paerson also hails from Tarnaby and Byggmark has regularly trained with the Olympic gold medalist over the years.
"It's been great to see her successes. I think it helped me," Byggmark said.
Byggmark's father, a professional soccer player from the flat southern region of Skane, first put his son on skis when he was just 2 1/2 years old.
"My dad helped me a lot. He was always by my side and was my trainer until I was 18. He's been great support for me," Byggmark said.
It is Byggmark's first full season on the World Cup circuit. His best career World Cup result until now was a fifth-place finish in a slalom at Beaver Creek, Colorado, in December. He has been in the top 10 of every slalom this season.
"My goal at the start of the season was to make the top-30 starting list, to be top 30 in the standings," Byggmark said. "I had no goals after that."
Byggmark overtook teammate Markus Larsson atop the World Cup slalom standings with 243 points after five races. Larsson dropped to second with 225, after failing to qualify for the second run. Olympic champion Benjamin Raich is third on 225.
Austria's Mario Matt improved on his third-place placing from the last slalom at Adelboden, Switzerland, three weeks ago, finishing runner-up in 1:44.61.
Germany's Alois Vogl, disqualified in the slaloms at Beaver Creek and Adelboden, was third in 1:45.22.
Raich, third in the opening leg, dropped into fifth place, 1.67 off the winning pace.
Switzerland's Marc Berthod, the surprise winner of the slushy slalom at Adelboden, crossed second after the first leg but straddled a gate on his second trip down.
Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway was 13th, but remained atop the World Cup overall standings with 745 points after 22 races. Switzerland's Didier Cuche was second on 677. Bode Miller, who crashed out in the first run, is third on 640. Italy's Peter Fill is fourth with 570. Raich, the reigning overall champion, is fifth on 565.
Miller, still seeking a berth on the U.S. slalom squad for the upcoming world championships in Are, Sweden, had a disastrous opening run.
He straddled a gate midway down then hiked back up two sets of gates to rerun it. Moments later, he lost his right ski on a left turn and crashed.
It was the second time in two weeks Miller lost his right ski in a slalom. It came off midway down the second run in Adelboden, too.
"It's the same problem as in Adelboden," said Rainer Salzgeber, who works for Head _ the company that makes Miller's skis. "In a way, he is the only guy who has a problem like that."
Salzgeber said the company had found a solution to Miller's binding plight, but that the American felt that the adjustments could lead to more problems for him.
Miller has not completed a slalom in almost a year. The 29-year-old has finished only three of his last 20 World Cup slalom races.
The last time he finished one was here last season when he placed 18th. His last World Cup slalom victory dates back to December 2004 at Sestriere, Italy.
Miller will have another chance in Sunday's slalom to secure a spot for the worlds, which begin Feb. 3. Another slalom is scheduled for Tuesday night under the floodlights of nearby Schladming.


Updated : 2021-07-26 21:38 GMT+08:00