January 17, 2015

WENGEN, Switzerland (AP) Felix Neureuther took advantage of a rare mistake by Marcel Hirscher of Austria to win a World Cup slalom on Saturday and retake the discipline standings lead from his great rival.

Neureuther seized his chance after Hirscher, the world champion from Austria, skied out of a slalom event for the first time in three seasons.

Germany's Neureuther rose from fifth after the first run by racing down a tricky slope in steadily falling snow to beat Stefano Gross of Italy by 0.20 seconds.

''It's a special moment for me,'' said Neureuther, who also won this race two years ago. ''This classic hill is amazing.''

Olympic bronze medalist Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway was third, trailing 0.44 behind Neureuther's combined time of 1 minute, 46.93 seconds.

In the finish area, Neureuther was greeted by Kristoffersen kneeling to bow in a show of respect before the two racers hugged.

''Felix's second run was unbelievable,'' Kristoffersen said. ''It's cool to see someone ski that fast. It makes me go on a higher level, too.''

Hirscher went out early in the morning run and last failed to reach a slalom finish line in March 2012 at Schladming, Austria. The three-time defending overall World Cup champion missed the chance to extend his big lead in those standings over Kjetil Jansrud of Norway, who does not race slalom.

Neureuther earned 100 points for his 11th career World Cup win, his second this season, and leads Hirscher by 44 in the slalom standings. He also climbed to third overall.

Neureuther has had top-3 finishes in five of six slaloms this season in another duel with Hirscher, who clinched the crystal globe trophy on the final day of last season.

The 30-year-old German's only blip was failing to finish last Sunday at nearby Adelboden where Gross got his first career win.

Hirscher's consistent run of slalom results ended when he straddled a gate.

''I would rather be fast and go out than be in the fifth or sixth position with a big gap between the leader and yourself,'' said Hirscher. ''It sucks that I struggled but it was definitely not easy.''

First-run leader Mattias Hargin of Sweden finished sixth, 0.96 behind Neureuther.

Both American racers who qualified for a second run dropped in the rankings.

David Chodounsky went from 13th to finish 18th, trailing by 2.79. Ted Ligety fell to 27th from 24th, and was 3.65 behind his good friend Neureuther.

''I'm just upset with myself,'' said Chodounsky, from Crested Butte, Colorado. ''I didn't quite let it go as much as I could have. That was just on me.''

The race was switched from its usual Sunday slot, allowing the classic Lauberhorn downhill to be pushed back a day when better weather is forecast.

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