Mario Matt of Austria leads the men's slalom pack after the competition's first run. Andre Myhrer of Sweden sits in second place while countryman Mattias Hargin and Italy's Stefano Gross are tied for third heading into the final run.
The men's slalom event marks the last competition for alpine skiers in Sochi as the 2014 Winter Olympics continue to wind down. Austria leads the way with seven medals in the sport and Matt has them in great position to grab at least one more in the finale.
With that in mind, let's check out how the leaderboard stacks up after the first runs. The skiers will take to the slalom course again and the top three combined times after the second run will earn a trip to the podium.
Men's Slalom Run 1 Results
|Men's Alpine Skiing Slalom - Top 10 After Run 1|
For a full list of times for all 117 competitors, visit the Sochi Olympics' official site.
Most of the top contenders in the discipline were located near the front of the starting order for the first run. There's very little waiting around. Instead, it's crucial to go out early and lay down a great run to put pressure on the other competitors.
Matt did exactly that. He was the third skier out of the gate and put himself nearly a half-second clear of Myhrer. Despite there being several other medal hopefuls taking to the course after his run, nobody got any closer to the lead.
As the NBC Gold Zone noted, it's just the second Olympic appearance for the 34-year-old veteran. He's been a constant presence in the World Cup events over the years, however, and won two gold medals at the World Championships in the discipline.
Hargin was sandwiched between Matt and Myhrer in the second starting position and also laid down a strong first run. He, along with every other skier in the chase pack with a realistic medal chance, will need the Austrian to struggle in the second run to have a chance at gold, though.
He's currently tied in third place with Stefano Gross. The Italian had the latest starting position of anybody ranked into the top 10. He came out of the gates 17th, but put together a really strong, mistake-free effort to get into medal contention.
Rounding out the top five is Jean-Baptiste Grange of France. He was the world champion in the slalom in 2011 and won the discipline in World Cup competition in 2009. His results had dropped off a bit over the past couple years, but he showed no signs of that on his first run.
The top American skier after the opening round is unsurprisingly Ted Ligety. Coming off his gold-medal performance in the giant slalom, he skied his way into sixth place heading into the second run. He's certainly within striking distance of another podium.
Scott Stump of Today provided comments Ligety made in an interview with Matt Lauer after capturing his second career Olympic gold. He talked about the relief he felt after overcoming some lackluster results earlier in the Games:
It was definitely worth the wait. It was pretty nerve-wracking, though, especially (because) my first two events here didn't go all that great. I was hoping to try to medal in those as well. The giant slalom I always knew was my bread and butter, so to get that one is a really, really big relief.
Having already won that event, eliminating the pressure of returning home without a medal, he can ski freely in the second run. Perhaps take a couple extra chances in order to make a serious push toward the top. He's currently a shade under nine-tenths of a second off the pace.
The only other athlete within a second of the leader is Felix Neureuther. This is his third Olympic appearance for Germany and he's still looking for his first medal.
Alexis Pinturault and Marcel Hirscher are each over a second back, but neither race can be counted out. They were both viewed as serious medal contenders heading into the event and can still reach the podium with a strong second run.
Of the 117 competitors in the event, only 77 were able to complete the first run successfully. The others either didn't start or didn't finish the tricky slalom course in Sochi.
Looking ahead, Matt should be extremely happy with the results of the first run. By giving himself such a sizable lead, he will have a little more margin for error heading into the final round. He won't have to take as many risks as his fellow competitors, either.
Assuming he doesn't fall or otherwise make a huge mistake to eliminate himself from contention, he should take home the gold. The race for the other two podium spots should be a lot more intense with at least eight contenders for the two medals.
Current Medal Count
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