PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – Sweden’s Andre Myhrer won the men’s Olympic slalom on Thursday at the age of 35, keeping his head while others were losing theirs after both of the pre-race favorites destroyed their chances with uncharacteristic mistakes.
Skiing in his fourth Games and cheered on by King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, Myhrer won by 0.34 seconds from Ramon Zenhaeusern of Switzerland and by 0.67 from Michael Matt of Austria.
“I took a medal in Vancouver (2010), a bronze, but I’ve always been dreaming about the gold medal and now it’s a reality and I‘m totally blown away,” he said.
The contest had been thrown wide open after Austria’s Marcel Hirscher, the overwhelming favorite, bombed out in the morning run while chasing his third gold medal of the Games.
Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen was the first-run leader by 0.21 seconds and, racing immediately after Myhrer, had the chance to overhaul him. But he skied out after just half a dozen turns of the deciding run.
“I‘m not disappointed. Better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all,” said the Norwegian, who after years of close rivalry with Hirscher must have wondered if his day had come at last.
Matt, brother of 2014 slalom champion Mario, put in the fastest second run at 50.66 seconds, to move up nine places from 12th.
Zenhaeusern was only ninth in the morning but put in the second-fastest run of the afternoon. He then watched from the leader’s chair as the next six racers all failed to capitalize on their advantage from the morning race.
Then came Myhrer, beating his chest before bursting out of the start gate and carving his way cleanly and smoothly down the course.
His afternoon time was only the eighth fastest, but combined with his second place in the morning, was enough to win with a total time of one minute, 38.99 seconds.