SOLDEU, Andorra (AP)Norwegian skier Lucas Braathen fought back tears after wrapping up the men’s slalom season title Sunday, finishing runner-up in the last race at the World Cup Finals.
The globe capped an emotional campaign for Braathen, which included two slaloms victories and five podium results. But he also underwent surgery for appendicitis just before the world championships in February.
“Here it is, my baby. It’s been one of my dreams all season and now it’s here,” Braathen said while holding the trophy.
“My globe represents a lot of dedication and sacrifices over a long time. It’s not this year, it’s every single hour I put in since I was nine years old and started skiing.”
Ramon Zenhaeusern held on to his first-run lead to beat Braathen by 0.06 seconds and win the race, but the result was not enough for the Swiss skier to overtake the Norwegian in the standings as he remained in third position.
Henrik Kristoffersen finished the race 0.63 behind in third and trailed his teammate Braathen by 52 points in second place in the final standings. Kristoffersen had won the slalom title for the third time last season.
After finishing his decisive run in warm and sunny conditions, Braathen bent over and buried his face in his gloves, then looked up and made the V sign with both hands.
“I couldn’t believe it. I knew I had a possibility but fighting Ramon and Henrik in that last run, it was probably the longest slalom of the year, some of the toughest conditions,” Braathen said.
“I don’t think words can describe how proud I am to follow up in that second run.”
Braathen became the third Norwegian skier to lift the slalom title, after Kristoffersen and Kjetil Andre Aamodt, who won it 23 years ago.
Daniel Yule was the only other globe contender coming into the last race but the Swiss skier went out in his second run.
Overall World Cup champion Marco Odermatt does not compete in slaloms. The Swiss standout ended his season after winning Saturday’s giant slalom and setting the men’s record for most World Cup points in a single season with 2,042.
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