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“Visibility was obviously bad,” said Hirscher, who wiped his goggles immediately after crossing the finish line in his first run.

After days of mild weather, course workers salted the piste in order to harden up the surface, but the fresh snow made for difficult conditions. Furthermore, the unusual placing of some gates by Croatian coach Ante Kostelic made racing even harder.

Kostelic, the father of former overall champions Ivica and Janica, has made a name for setting challenging courses. A year ago in Kitzbuehel, the jury rejected a course set by Kostelic, deeming it as “unskiable.”

The course wasn’t that extraordinary this time, though Neureuther said it was “by far the most difficult slalom in Kitzbuehel I have ever done.”

“Visibility is brutal, the course setting is extreme, and the piste is bad,” the German said. “It’s extreme but we are the best ski racers so we have to adapt to these conditions.”

Nolan Kasper of the United States lost a pole when he tried to clean his goggles during the final part of his first run. He still completed the final gates.

“It’s definitely tough, it’s one or two gates in a row that get a lot of splashback,” said Kasper, who finished 2.29 back in 18th for his best result of the season. “It’s not the snow falling, it’s the snow from the gate. That’s why I tried to wipe my goggles and dropped my pole.”

Fellow American Ted Ligety placed 15th, 2.16 off the pace.

The next slalom on the men’s World Cup circuit is the annual night race in Schladming on Tuesday.