Lucas Braathen (20) won the World Cup opening in Sölden and took his first World Cup victory in his career. Now former world champion Tom Stiansen believes that Braathen can be as big as Henrik Kristoffersen.
– Yeah! shouted Lucas Braathen and hit his chest as he drove into the lead from his 6th place, five hundredths ahead of Marco Odermatt in the second half.
But it was very evenly up the list after the first half and it was only 24 hundredths up to Gino Caviezel who led after the first half. Thus, there were opportunities to climb towards the podium for the Norwegian. And the emotional outburst after he ran into leadership was just the start of the party.
Driver after driver, including greats like Alexis Pinturault and Henrik Kristoffersen, failed to catch up with 20-year-old Braathen, who climbed the results list.
And in the end, only the Swiss Caviezel was left at the top who could stop Braathen’s first victory. But neither did he manage to beat the Norwegian’s strong drive. Thus, it was the first ever World Cup victory for the new shooting star in the Norwegian alpine, Braathen, in the World Cup opening in giant slalom.
And he has made a name for himself in the past as well:
– I knew I was capable of a podium place. Victory in the first race of the season is unbelievable, says Braathen in the interview with FIS after the victory.
He emphasized that he is strong mentally and was able to perform well under pressure. He also referred to himself as “the next” when he impressed in the slalom race in Kitzbühel last season. Last year, he took 284 points in the World Cup. With Sunday’s victory, he has already secured 100 points.
And many were impressed by the young boy and believe the triumph in Austria is just the beginning of a great career. He drove into 4th place in the slalom race in Kitzbühel last winter, but the victory is a long step forward in his career.
Former world champion in slalom, Tom Stiansen, believes the victory is just the start of a great career.
– There are not many who have won the World Cup race as a twenty-year-old. He is in a very famous company, says Stiansen and mentions several of the alpinists of all time.
– Henrik is the best we have had in recent years. But Braathen said in an interview in Kitzbühel last year that “I am the next” and he meant what he saw. I think he will probably have an equally fantastic career as Henrik has had, says Stiansen to VG.
– I think this is just the start of a great career, says Stiansen.
He believes that it is especially Braathen’s fearless attitude towards trails and competitors that makes him stand out. He is convinced that the victory is not a bluff on Braathen’s part.
– There is something incredibly raw and rude about it. It’s just maintaining the lack of respect for the slopes and competitors. Not thinking too much is a big advantage in alpine skiing. I do not think he does. The fact that he follows up the breakthrough season with this says a lot about his future, says Stiansen who points out that many manage some top results, but then struggle to remain consistent at the top.
Three Norwegians were in the top ten before the final round of the giant slalom race in Sölden. The stage was set for excitement with Henrik Kristoffersen, Lucas Braathen and Leif Kristian Nestvold Haugen, when the race was to be decided on Sunday morning, in what is the annual prize party for the Alpine World Cup. The best was Henrik Kristoffersen who only had ten hundredths up to leader Gino Caviezel.
And the Norwegians followed up in the second half. And best of all: 20 year old Lucas Braathen who is also known for fresh answers:
Leif Kristian Nestvold-Haugen and Henrik Kristoffersen also followed up with a top 10 position. Nestvold-Haugen looked very strong at the start of the second half and led with the second to French Thibaut Favrot. But the Norwegian lost a lot of time downhill, even though he drove into the lead.
National team physio to hospital by helicopter after an accident during training in Austria
But he quickly lost it to Marco Odermatt who immediately took over the lead 99 hundredths ahead of the Norwegian. In the end, Nestvold-Haugen finished in 8th place.
Henrik Kristoffersen, on the other hand, came defensively in the second half and finally drove into 5th place, 56 hundredths behind Braathen.