WENGEN, SWITZERLAND – Norway keeps racing toward a historically successful World Cup season.
Kjetil Jansrud edged teammate Aksel Lund Svindal to win a combined event that favored downhill racers on Friday, needing an acrobatic recovery to avoid a near wipeout in the final slalom section to win by .04 seconds.
Adrien Theaux of France was third, finishing .13 behind Jansrud’s two-run time of 2 minutes, 37.61 seconds.
Jansrud’s second World Cup win of the season, and 12th of his career, extended a remarkable run for Norway, where cross-country skiing is more popular.
Norwegian racers have 10 victories in the 17 men’s events this season.
“What we are doing in the World Cup this year is quite amazing,” said Jansrud, who combined with slalom specialist Henrik Kristoffersen last season to claim a national record 11 race wins.
Svindal’s return after an Achilles injury, adding five wins this season, has pushed the small Norwegian team to World Cup results beyond those achieved by greats Lasse Kjus and Kjetil Andre Aamodt in a previous era.
“In Norway we always talk about a golden ’90s generation,” said Jansrud, who has matched Svindal by winning an Olympic medal of each color. “We would like to keep on keeping on like it has been.”
Crossing the finish line five gates after his big mistake, Jansrud — who rarely skis slalom — raised both arms and punched the air with his left fist.
Svindal had been .90 ahead of Jansrud, who was third-fastest in a downhill on the shorter Lauberhorn course, going into the slalom leg.
“Kjetil skied a brilliant slalom and took it away,” said Svindal, a two-time world champion in combined. “Before the race started, (runnerup) is something I would have been very happy with.”
The two-time overall World Cup winner, who began his career as a teammate of Aamodt, said Norway’s success was down to hard work.
“It looks like someone is doing something magical but it really isn’t,” the 33-year-old Svindal said. “Things come together when you have people who have done good things over several years.”
Svindal received 80 World Cup points and is 85 points behind overall leader Marcel Hirscher of Austria, who has five wins but typically skips speed events. Svindal can take the lead on Saturday when he’ll start as the favorite for the classic downhill.