Alpine

Sunny skies and near perfect racing conditions greeted racers as the 50th season of World Cup racing got underway on the Rettenbach glacier in Soelden, Austria this weekend. Frenchman Alexis Pinturault continued his hot streak from the end of last season, taking the win in the men’s giant slalom by 0.70 seconds over Austrian rival Marcel Hirscher, setting up what is sure to be a battle of epic proportions for this season’s GS title. Germany’s Felix Neureuther was third, 1.37 seconds back and American Ted Ligety began his comeback from injury with a respectable fifth-place finish, 1.65 seconds off of Pinturault.

Grippy snow and a straightforward first run set made for fast and tight racing as the top 30 finishers were separated by only 2.06 seconds. Pinturault set the pace with only a slim 0.15 second advantage over Hirscher heading into the second run as Ligety sat a distant 14th, 1.49 seconds back.

Skies darkened slightly for the second run as a more technical set challenged racers in the afternoon. Racing was tight as positions were constantly shuffling until Hirscher kicked out of the starting gate.

With trademark aggression, Hirscher took to the course and was building upon his advantage until he found himself sliding on his hip midway down the pitch. Recovering just in time, the Austrian managed to make up all of the time he had lost with the mistake and cross the line with a commanding lead and only Pinturault left to challenge him. The Frenchman was not intimidated, however, as he matched Hirscher turn for turn and then some, stretching his slim first run margin to 0.70 seconds for a decisive win.

Although Pinturault has been on every World Cup GS podium since last season in Yuzawa Naeba, Japan, he hasn’t been resting on his laurels and was looking to make a statement about his form here in Soelden.

“In the beginning, you never know where you are,” he explained. “You never know if you are skiing fast or not and just after Soelden, you can see where you are more or less. When you start a new season, everything you’ve done before is over, so you just have to start something new and keep going. One thing that is easy in skiing is that there is never strategy, you just have to push and push even harder for the second run.”

Hirscher, who is in search of an unprecedented sixth World Cup overall title in a row this season, was experiencing the pressure of opening the season on home snow, especially since there were rumors that the superstar was struggling in training leading up to race day.

“I’m super happy because the pressure is definitely on my shoulders, especially at the first race of the season,” he said. “If I am skiing good, everything is fine, but if I am skiing bad, it is never fun so I am super happy and a lot of pressure has gone away.”

Neureuther’s giant slalom has been rock solid in recent years, and although many might think of the German as more of a slalom skier, his skiing on Sunday definitely proved otherwise. Two unshakeable runs earned him another podium appearance in the discipline which bodes well for the rest of the season.

“I think I did two very solid runs today without too many mistakes,” Neureuther said. “There’s still some work ahead of us, Alexis and Marcel were, of course, today the two dominating guys so we’ll try to close the gap in the next weeks. For me, a perfect start to the season. Being here on the podium is really something special for me, especially in giant slalom. The last years weren’t always easy here for me in Soelden, so a perfect season opener.”

For Ligety, who pushed out of the start gate for the first time since his season-ending knee injury last January, a top-five finish is definitely a step in the right direction. Ligety’s first run skiing was quite good, although it lacked the pace fans are accustomed to seeing from one of the best GS skiers of all time.

“I’m pretty happy actually with fifth place for my first race back,” Ligety said. “I haven’t had any speed in training, so I think it’s the first step back. Second run I was attacking a little bit more, and I was a little lucky with the light so that definitely helped me a little bit.”

“I feel good.” he added. “My body feels fine, I just don’t have the high-intensity, high-speed miles in yet. I need to get there and luckily, I have a little while until the next race.”

For the rest of the American men, only Tim Jitloff managed to qualify for a second run. Unfortunately, Jitloff fell victim to the glacier’s steep pitch and failed to finish his second run leaving Ligety as the lone American finisher.

Next, the men and women head to Levi, Finland for the first slalom races of the season on Nov. 12 and 13.

Fans can stay up to date on World Cup news by downloading the U.S. Ski Team – Ski Racing app for iOS and Android.


Top 10 Finishers

  1. Alexis Pinturault (FRA) – Head/Head/Head
  2. Marcel Hirscher (AUT) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
  3. Felix Neureuther (GER) – Nordica/Nordica/Marker
  4. Zan Kranjec (SLO) – Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
  5. Ted Ligety (USA) – Head/Head/Head
  6. Thomas Fanara (FRA) – Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
  7. Justin Murisier (SUI) – Voelkl/Dalbello/Marker
  8. Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR) – Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
  9. Mathieu Faivre (FRA) Head/Head/Head
  10. Luca De Aliprandini (ITA) Salomon/Salomon/Salomon

Official Results

Rank Bib FIS Code Name Year Nation Run 1 Run 2 Total Time Diff. FIS Points
 1  5  194364 PINTURAULT Alexis 1991 FRA  1:04.38  1:09.63  2:14.01  0.00
 2  3  53831 HIRSCHER Marcel 1989 AUT  1:04.55  1:10.16  2:14.71  +0.70  5.12
 3  9  201702 NEUREUTHER Felix 1984 GER  1:05.12  1:10.26  2:15.38  +1.37  10.02
 4  24  561244 KRANJEC Zan 1992 SLO  1:05.54  1:09.91  2:15.45  +1.44  10.53
 5  7  534562 LIGETY Ted 1984 USA  1:05.87  1:09.79  2:15.66  +1.65  12.07
 6  2  191750 FANARA Thomas 1981 FRA  1:05.42  1:10.26  2:15.68  +1.67  12.21
 7  12  511896 MURISIER Justin 1992 SUI  1:04.58  1:11.21  2:15.79  +1.78  13.02
 8  4  422304 KRISTOFFERSEN Henrik 1994 NOR  1:05.46  1:10.47  2:15.93  +1.92  14.04
 9  1  194495 FAIVRE Mathieu 1992 FRA  1:05.77  1:10.17  2:15.94  +1.93  14.11
 10  28  990116 DE ALIPRANDINI Luca 1990 ITA  1:06.18  1:09.95  2:16.13  +2.12  15.50
 11  21  501017 MYHRER Andre 1983 SWE  1:04.89  1:11.25  2:16.14  +2.13  15.58
 12  39  202265 STAUBITZER Benedikt 1990 GER  1:06.40  1:09.75  2:16.15  +2.14  15.65
 13  16  511313 JANKA Carlo 1986 SUI  1:06.01  1:10.18  2:16.19  +2.18  15.94
 14  6  193967 MUFFAT-JEANDET Victor 1989 FRA  1:06.27  1:09.97  2:16.24  +2.23  16.31
 15  26  501324 OLSSON Matts 1988 SWE  1:06.01  1:10.29  2:16.30  +2.29  16.75
 16  23  511852 CAVIEZEL Gino 1992 SUI  1:06.16  1:10.23  2:16.39  +2.38  17.40
 17  53  512269 ODERMATT Marco 1997 SUI  1:05.86  1:10.56  2:16.42  +2.41  17.62
 18  15  421669 HAUGEN Leif Kristian 1987 NOR  1:06.44  1:10.00  2:16.44  +2.43  17.77
 19  11  202437 LUITZ Stefan 1992 GER  1:04.98  1:11.47  2:16.45  +2.44  17.84
 20  22  54031 LEITINGER Roland 1991 AUT  1:06.24  1:10.28  2:16.52  +2.51  18.36
 21  13  292967 EISATH Florian 1984 ITA  1:06.27  1:10.31  2:16.58  +2.57  18.79
 22  14  51007 SCHOERGHOFER Philipp 1983 AUT  1:05.89  1:10.72  2:16.61  +2.60  19.01
 23  32  422139 KILDE Aleksander Aamodt 1992 NOR  1:06.39  1:10.39  2:16.78  +2.77  20.26
 24  8  294890 NANI Roberto 1988 ITA  1:06.44  1:10.42  2:16.86  +2.85  20.84
 25  17  180534 SANDELL Marcus 1987 FIN  1:05.30  1:11.58  2:16.88  +2.87  20.99
 26  29  192506 MISSILLIER Steve 1984 FRA  1:05.86  1:11.05  2:16.91  +2.90  21.21
 27  18  202462 DOPFER Fritz 1987 GER  1:06.09  1:11.17  2:17.26  +3.25  23.77
 28  30  51159 NOESIG Christoph 1985 AUT  1:05.96  1:11.58  2:17.54  +3.53  25.81
Did not qualify for 2nd run
 90  690694 KOVBASNYUK Ivan 1993 UKR
 89  750088 RISTEVSKI Antonio 1989 MKD
 88  770015 TIMOFEEV Evgeniy 1994 KGZ
 87  430783 HABDAS Piotr 1998 POL
 86  680047 BENIAIDZE Alex 1991 GEO
 85  54106 BREITFUSS KAMMERLANDER Simon 1992 BOL
 84  92720 POPOV Albert 1997 BUL
 82  30149 SIMARI BIRKNER Cristian Javier 1980 ARG
 80  320266 JUNG Dong-hyun 1988 KOR
 79  303097 ISHII Tomoya 1989 JPN
 78  320293 KYUNG Sung-hyun 1990 KOR
 77  60253 MARCHANT Armand 1997 BEL
 76  6291574 SALA Tommaso 1995 ITA
 75  561310 HROBAT Miha 1995 SLO
 74  221213 RAPOSO Charlie 1996 GBR
 72  40612 SCOTT Alec 1997 AUS
 71  202451 STRASSER Linus 1992 GER
 70  516287 BUGNARD Pierre 1993 SUI
 68  422359 VEISTEN Patrick Haugen 1994 NOR
 67  422300 EIDE Peder Dahlum 1994 NOR
 65  511741 ZURBRIGGEN Elia 1990 SUI
 64  20398 VERDU Joan 1995 AND
 61  6530115 CHRISTIANSON Kieffer 1992 USA
 60  54320 SCHWARZ Marco 1995 AUT
 59  103865 PHILP Trevor 1992 CAN
 58  422390 MONSEN Marcus 1995 NOR
 57  100558 COOK Dustin 1989 CAN
 56  194873 SARRAZIN Cyprien 1994 FRA
 55  6530319 COCHRAN-SIEGLE Ryan 1992 USA
 54  511857 JENAL Sandro 1992 SUI
 52  53889 HIRSCHBUEHL Christian 1990 AUT
 51  422073 NETELAND Bjoernar 1991 NOR
 49  534508 CHODOUNSKY David 1984 USA
 48  6291430 MAURBERGER Simon 1995 ITA
 47  700879 ZAMPA Andreas 1993 SVK
 45  53985 MATHIS Marcel 1991 AUT
 44  180705 PIRINEN Eemeli 1993 FIN
 43  202345 SCHWAIGER Dominik 1991 GER
 42  481327 TRIKHICHEV Pavel 1992 RUS
 41  700830 ZAMPA Adam 1990 SVK
 40  934568 RUBIE Brennan 1991 USA
 38  422112 PATRICKSSON Axel William 1992 NOR
 37  531799 FORD Tommy 1989 USA
 36  512182 MEILLARD Loic 1996 SUI
 35  150644 KRYZL Krystof 1986 CZE
 34  291459 PARIS Dominik 1989 ITA
 33  53980 KRIECHMAYR Vincent 1991 AUT
 25  380335 ZUBCIC Filip 1993 CRO
 19  291318 TONETTI Riccardo 1989 ITA
 10  54063 FELLER Manuel 1992 AUT
Did not finish 2nd run
 31  421483 JANSRUD Kjetil 1985 NOR
 27  534959 JITLOFF Tim 1985 USA
 20  292491 MOELGG Manfred 1982 ITA
Did not finish 1st run
 83  380377 KOLEGA Samuel 1999 CRO
 81  150743 BERNDT Ondrej 1988 CZE
 73  304242 NARITA Hideyuki 1993 JPN
 69  502015 JAKOBSEN Kristoffer 1994 SWE
 66  290095 BALLERIN Andrea 1989 ITA
 63  103676 BROWN Phil 1991 CAN
 62  180666 TORSTI Samu 1991 FIN
 50  54027 BRENNSTEINER Stefan 1991 AUT
 46  422278 WINDINGSTAD Rasmus 1993 NOR
Article Tags: Alpine , Top Rotator , Top Story
Sean Higgins
Associate Editor
-
A Lake Tahoe native and University of Vermont graduate, Higgins was a member of the Catamounts' 2012 NCAA title winning squad and earned first team All-American status in 2013. Prior to coming to SkiRacing.com, he coached U14s for the Squaw Valley Ski Team.

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