Marcel Hirscher got the win. Alexis Pinturault skied out three gates from the finish and a date with history. Ted Ligety finished third after mistakes in both runs. But the “are you kidding me?” result of the day (Dec. 9) in the Val d’Isere World Cup GS came from Stefan Luitz, a 20 year old German team skier posting the second fastest two run time of the day. He started 35th and was the sixth skier out of the start in the second heat, meaning he stood in the leader’s box for 40 plus minutes watching the best in the world fail to overtake him.
The sun finally flooded the French resort beset by heavy snowstorms over the preceding week and a tight course set on the steep Face Bellevarde race hill. The combination of a soft surface, GS skis with a 36m radius and gates set 23m apart caused some consternation among competitors as the previous two GS races had featured harder snow and more wide open courses. Luitz did not seem to mind, though he did seem as puzzled as any of the spectators. It was not only his first World Cup podium. It was his first top 10 and just his third scoring result.
It appeared after the first run that the race would come down to a battle between Hirscher and Saturday’s slalom winner Alexis Pinturault as both had margins of more than a second on the rest of the field. The French fans were more than ready to continue the celebration started with that slalom win and it looked for most of his run that Pinturault would succeed in taking over first place. Three gates from the finish he met disaster, missing the gate. He scrambled home to get the finish in 28th place.
Hirscher remained calm, but said he knew he still had plenty of work to do if he wanted to get his first win of the season. “It was so hard,” he said in the finish, still breathing hard from the exertion required by the Bellevarde. “That was really tough. I got the message that Pinturault skied out. What could I do but to ski 100percent?”
He attacked and though he lost time to the young German and had just the 11th fastest second run he had enough reserve to ferret out a 1.57 second win, his first of the year after four podium finishes.
Ligety, just sixth after the first run, lived up to his reputation as the GS master, picking up chunks of time on the leader before a mistake compounded into another and he faded out of contention. His run was still good enough to earn him third, retaining control of the GS standings. Hirscher, though, closed within 20points.
“Val d’Isere is always tough,” said Ligety, “It’s not a hill I particularly like. It’s not very user friendly, it’s very steep the whole way. I’m happy to salvage it and to walk away from this hill with a podium when it could easily have been a DNF.”
It was a good day for the Germans with Felix Neureuther finishing fourth. Overall standings leader Aksel Lund Svindal finished sixth to hold his tour lead. It was not a good day for the Americans with no skier beyond Ligety making a second run.
“As a team we skied too conservative in the first run,” said US coach Sasha Rearick. “Fortunately Ted is such a fast skier that skiing conservative still keeps him in the game.”
Luitz said he “had no idea,” of what he did in the second run to wind up where he did.
“I think only when there were about ten guys left on start I realized what I have done today and that my second run could be good enough for a podium finish. I felt good coming down the slope, and I am sure the perfect slope conditions and sun all along helped – but it all feels a bit unreal.”
Luitz photo by Gepa
MORE TO COME
by Hank McKee
Men’s World Cup Giant Slalom, Val d’Isere, France, Dec. 9, 2012
1 Hirscher, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
2 Luitz, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
3 Ligety, Head/Head/Head
4 Neureuther, Nordica/Nordica/Marker
5 Blardone, Dynastar/Lange/Look
6 Svindal, Head/Head/Head
7 Fanara, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
8 Mathis, Head/Head/Head
9 Noesig, Fischer/Lange/Fischer
10 Nani, Voelkl/Fischer/Marker
Men’s World Cup Giant Slalom, Val d’Isere, France, Dec. 9, 2012. … It is the 18th race of the 74 races on the 2012-13 World Cup schedule. … The ninth of 36 on the men’s schedule and the third of eight GS’s. … It is the 158th Cup race hosted – at least in part – at Val d’Isere. … the 42nd GS.
It is the 13th career World Cup victory for Marcel Hirscher. … his seventh in GS. … It is his third win at Val d’Isere having previously claimed a GS Dec. 13, 2009 and a slalom Dec. 12, 2010. … It is his fifth result of the year and his first win having placed on the podium in every completed race.
It is the third career World Cup scoring finish for Stefan Luitz, all in GS, and his first podium. … His previous best had been 13th at Beaver Creek Dec. 2. … He was a World Junior silver medalist in GS in 2010.
It is the 32nd career World Cup podium finish for Ted Ligety. … the 25th in GS. … It is his third best finish at Val d’Isere, second best in GS. … He has three podium results and five top five finishes so far this season.
No other North American skiers completed the first run.
Aksel Lund Svindal (sixth in race) leads the World Cup overall standings 440-402 over Ligety. … Hirscher is third wth 380pts. … Erik Guay (did not race) is top Canadian in 19th with 104pts. … Ligety leads the GS standings 260-240 over Hirscher. … Manfred Moelgg (13th in race) is third with 150pts. … Jean-Philippe Roy is top Canadian in 35th with 14pts. … Austria leads the men’s Nations Cup 1620-1105 over Italy. … France is third with 786pts. … The US is fifth with 592 and Canada ninth with 235.
Val d’Isere (FRA)
FIS World Cup
Men’s Giant Slalom
Dec. 9, 2012
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||FIS Points|
|6||10||421328||SVINDAL Aksel Lund&
|16||25||420148||KARLSEN Truls Ove||1975||NOR||59.10||57.50||1:56.60||19.50|
|19||30||421669||HAUGEN Leif Kristian||1987||NOR||58.42||58.49||1:56.91||21.92|
|24||41||192504||MERMILLOD BLONDIN Thomas||1984||FRA||59.69||57.56||1:57.25||24.57|
|29||54||193967||MUFFAT JEANDET Victor||1989||FRA||59.03||1:02.09||2:01.12||54.76|
|Did not start 1st run|
|Did not qualify for 2nd run|
|59||30149||SIMARI BIRKNER Cristian Javier||1980||ARG|
|34||990116||DE ALIPRANDINI Luca||1990||ITA|
|24||191746||DE TESSIERES Gauthier||1981||FRA|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not finish 1st run|