Ted Ligety had not failed to finish a World Cup giant slalom race in five seasons, not since Feb. 21, 2009 in Sestriere. If it was going to happen, though, Val d’Isere’s Face de Bellevarde was the place. The track is steep and this year in particular, rather icy. For Ligety, the angles just got too steep. On a course described by Thomas Fanara as “brutally icy,” Ligety tried to compensate for a tactical error a season ago when he backed off and found himself in the weeds. This season, with the first bib and with coach Forest Carey setting the course, Ligety opted to charge and charge hard. It was going well, he was having his usual brilliant run when he needed to lean over a bit too much, losing the bite on his ski and sliding out of the running.
“Ted skied aggressive and clean skiing the whole way,” said head coach Sasha Rearick. “Just on that one roll went a little too straight for the course set and the terrain… once he went out it was an easy adjustment for everybody else to make.”
The second man down the hill, Norwegian great Aksel Lund Svindal, also skied off when his binding pulled out and he was left rudderless. Bode Miller later exited as well, and no other American made the top-30 flip for second run. Rearick said, “Bode got unlucky today, his outside ski caught right in the initiation of the turn.”
Homestanding Alexis Pinturault took the first run lead with German Stefan Luitz in second and defending overall champ Marcel Hirscher tied for third with another French favorite, Fanara.
And did Fanara ever blast the second run, throwing down the gauntlet for the three top skiers from the first run. He was more than a second ahead when he finished, but Hirscher managed to erase that and more despite a mid-course mishap that had both his hands on the snow as he slid around a gate.
“It was really tough,” said Hirscher. “I heard Thomas Fanara’s great time… pretty hard to beat, so I gave my personal best. It is, as every year in Val d’Isere, you can’t imagine how tough it is to ski here. It is just a fight from the start to the bottom.”
Luitz, a surprise second-place finisher in this same race a season ago, could not match the top two which left only Pinturault, an icon in the Val d’Isere region. Though he teased the spectators with the lead early on, he steadily dropped back to finish off the podium in fourth. Canadian Trevor Philp was the lone shining star for North American fans, finishing 27th in only his second time qualifying for the second run in a World Cup race.
Hirscher and Fanara exchanged congratulatory hand slaps and moved toward the podium to accept the spoils of the day. It was Hirscher’s second win of the season and first in GS since Dec. 2009, where he also found the top step of the podium in Val d’Isere.
The requirement for technical excellence called for by the Bellevarde clearly suits Hirscher’s skill set.
“It is nearly perfect for me (here),” he said. “I’m not the hugest or heaviest guy, but I have not a too bad technique and that means technical hills and race slopes are perfect for (me).”
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Watch Hirscher’s winning run (available only in the U.S.)
Men’s World Cup giant slalom, Val d’Isere, France, Dec. 14, 2013
Equipment - Skier, skis/boots/bindings
1 Hirscher, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
3 Luitz, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
4 Pinturault, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
6 DeAliprandini, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
9 Kristoffersen, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
Men’s World Cup giant slalom, Val d’Isere, France, Dec. 14, 2013. … It is the eighth of 34 races on the men’s 2013-14 World Cup schedule… the third of eight scheduled GS’s and the second consecutive. It is the 160th World Cup event held, at least in part, at Val d’Isere and the 43rd GS.
It is the 20th career World Cup win for Marcel Hirscher… his eighth in GS. … It is his fourth win at Val d’Isere and third in GS at Val d’Isere in the last four seasons. … It is his 15th straight technical event podium placing.
It is a career best World Cup result for Thomas Fanara, though he has three third-place GS finishes, two from Alta Badia (2010 & 2012) and one from Adelboden (2011). … His best previous World Cup finish at Val d’Isere had been seventh Dec. 9, 2012.
It is the sixth career World Cup scoring result for Stefan Luitz. … It is his second podium, the previous a second-place finish at Val d’Isere in GS last season.
It is the second career World Cup scoring result for Trevor Philp and his second in two straight GS’s, having placed 30th at Beaver Creek Dec. 8.
Aksel Lund Svindal (DNF in race) retains the lead of the World Cup overall standings 360-335 to Hirscher. … Ted Ligety (DNF in race) holds third with 269pts. … Bode Miller is eighth with 153pts. … Top Canadian is Jan Hudec (did not race) in 22nd with 91pts. …
Hirscher takes control of the GS standings 220-200 over Ligety. … Alexis Pinturault (fourth in race) is third with 175pts. … Miller is sixth with 92. … Philp is top Canadian in GS ranked 44th with 5 pts. … Austria leads the men’s Nations Cup 1391-929 over France with Italy third at 850pts. … The U.S. is sixth with 508pts and Canada seventh with 254pts.
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||FIS Points|
|6||37||990116||DE ALIPRANDINI Luca||1990||ITA||1:10.07||1:08.61||2:18.68||9.54|
|17||19||421669||HAUGEN Leif Kristian||1987||NOR||1:10.15||1:09.98||2:20.13||18.94|
|22||28||192504||MERMILLOD BLONDIN Thomas||1984||FRA||1:11.00||1:10.84||2:21.84||30.03|
|Disqualified 1st run|
|Did not start 1st run|
|Did not qualify for 2nd run|
|29||191746||DE TESSIERES Gauthier||1981||FRA|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|2||421328||SVINDAL Aksel Lund||1982||NOR|