The men’s slalom competition at the 2022 Winter Olympics was advertised as one of the most wide-open events of the Games, but in the end, the best in the world emerged atop the podium.
France’s Clement Noel won the competition with a total time of 1:44.09, which included the fastest second run of the field. Noel’s electrifying skiing in the second half of the event helped erase a deficit of 0.38 seconds that he accumulated behind Austria’s Johannes Strolz in the first run.
Noel, 24, has been the most consistent men’s slalom skier in the world over the last four seasons, winning nine times on the World Cup tour and finishing as the season runner-up each of the past three years. He came within 0.04 seconds of the podium in his Olympic debut in 2018, but wound up in fourth.
He is the first Frenchman to win an Olympic medal in slalom in two decades. In the end, his winning margin was a relatively comfortable 0.61 seconds.
"That was one of the most important races in my career," Noel said. "It's not often that you are able to win a medal in the Olympic Games. It's one shot -- one minute and 40 seconds every four years."
"This is the best I can do. I have no words to describe it. Olympic champion!"
Strolz continued his fairytale Winter Olympics with silver to go along with the gold medal he previously won in the men's combined, in which he delivered the fastest slalom leg of the competition. The gold-silver effort matched that of his father, Hubert Strolz, who won combined gold and giant slalom silver at the 1988 Calgary Olympics. The younger Strolz, 29, has never won a race on the World Cup tour.
Norway's Sebastian Foss-Solevaag took the bronze, 0.70 seconds behind gold medalist Noel. Foss-Solevaag previously won bronze in the team event in 2018.