Hirscher storms to giant slalom win
- Published: 9/12/2012 at 05:46 PM
- Online news:
Austrian Marcel Hirscher stormed to victory in the men's World Cup giant slalom here on Sunday, but there was heartbreak for home favourite Alexis Pinturault.
Marcel Hirscher of Austria competes in the first run of the FIS World Cup men's Giant slalom in Val-d'Isere, French Alps. Hirscher set the pace in the first leg of the men's World Cup giant slalom. Hirscher stormed to victory in the men's World Cup giant slalom.
The 23-year-old Hirscher, the defending overall World Cup champion, led after the first leg and clocked a combined total time of 1min 54.10sec down the steep, exacting Bellevarde course in sunny, but extremely cold conditions.
It was Hirscher's 10th World Cup victory in the last two seasons, with no other male rival having won more than six in that time.
The win was also the Austrian' s third on the Bellevarde, having previously won a giant and a slalom in recent years.
"This is what people want to see: good weather, good conditions, good course, good skiing," beamed Hirscher, expressing hope that the victory would shut his critics up.
"It's perfect to win, a first victory of the season. There were a lot of questions beforehand like 'What's going on, you're only second?'
"There's a first place and all those questions are over now."
Germany's Stefan Luitz finished second at 1.16sec, an impressive first podium placing on the World Cup circuit for the 20-year-old who was 25th after the first leg.
And American Ted Ligety, winner of the season's two opening giant slaloms and world champion in the discipline, was third at 1.42sec.
French tyro Pinturault, winner of Saturday's slalom in which Hirscher finished third behind Germany's Felix Neureuther, was left shellshocked after a drastic error.
Sitting in second after the first leg, the 21-year-old should have made the podium but missed a gate just metres from the finish line while he was more than 2sec up on Luitz, eventually finishing at 5.61sec.
"I started with bib number 35 and benefited from some good early visibility," said Luitz.
"I really attacked the course. I was aggressive and had confidence in myself.
"It's a major surprise and I'm still finding it hard to believe I made the podium."
Ligety was left ruing the "very unforgiving" nature of the Bellevarde slope.
"If you're off by just a tiny, tiny bit on a normal course, you'd have a little bobble, but on this hill it becomes a big mistake," he said.
"It's not a hill I particularly like. It's very steep, a very tight set: it's very, very different from a normal giant slalom. It was more like a super-slalom.
"My first run I didn't have anywhere near the correct approach, but I'm happy to salvage it with a third place - it could easily have been a DNF (did not finish)."
Ligety added: "Had Pinturault made it to the finish line, he would have been more than one second and a half ahead and would have blown us away by a long shot, so I guess we're sat here lucky that he didn't."
"I'm really gutted," Pinturault acknowledged. "To see everything blow up so close to the finish is a bit of a shame.
"It's now up to me to focus and bounce back for the upcoming races."
Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal, the current leader of the World Cup overall standings, scored more valuable points when coming in sixth behind Neureuther and Italian Massimiliano Blardone.
Svindal, who skipped the slalom to go powder skiing, has now accumulated 440 overall points, Ligety sitting second on 402pts with Hirscher in third on 380.
About the author
- Writer: AFP
Position: News agency