Clement Noel skied the final run of the men’s slalom competition in 49.79 seconds to claim gold for France on Wednesday, with Austrian Johannes Strolz earning the silver medal and Sebastian Foss-Solevaag of Norway picking up the bronze.
Noel, who entered the finals with the sixth fastest qualifying time, jumped into the gold medal position with the fastest time of the final round. He then had to wait as some of the best skiers in the world tried to bump him out of first place.
Noel’s path to the gold medal was made a little easier when 2018 bronze medalist Michael Matt of Austria skied out of the run directly before him.
Matt is the younger brother of Andreas Matt — the 2010 silver medalist in ski cross — and Mario Matt, the 2014 gold medalist in slalom. His crash meant that for the first time in 16 years, one of Austria’s biggest skiing dynasties will be absent from the podium in Beijing.
With both of his Austrian teammates eliminated from medal contention, Strolz delivered a medal for the slalom powerhouse.
Strolz’s smooth final run posed a legitimate threat to Clement’s gold medal but he came up .61 seconds short of the Olympic title.
Foss-Solevaag just barely edged out his Norwegian countryman Henrik Kristoffersen for bronze. Foss-Solevaag and Kristoffersen both struggled in the final run, posting the 15th and 18th fastest times, respectively. However, they were able to rely on dominant first runs to keep them in the hunt for a medal.
Luke Winters, the lone American competing in alpine skiing slalom, crashed early in the first run, skiing out and therefore declared disqualified. This was Winters’ first Olympic appearance.