Marcel Hirscher continued his reign of dominance in men’s World Cup giant slalom on Saturday, easily taking the win in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, by a whopping 1.66 seconds over Norwegian rival Henrik Kristoffersen. The Austrian has now won all but one GS race he has entered this season, including last month’s Olympic Games.
In contrast to the spring-like conditions of recent years in Kranjska Gora, racers were treated to light fog and aggressive winter snow as the Austrian powered his way to his 56th World Cup win, handily winning both runs in the process. Hirscher also clinched his 15th crystal globe, amassing enough points to find himself over 100 points clear of Kristoffersen in the GS standings heading into World Cup finals later this month.
We haven’t seen an athlete have a stranglehold on GS on the men’s side of the World Cup since the days of American Ted Ligety’s mastery of the discipline in the early 2010s. If it weren’t for a third-place finish from Val d’Isere last December, Hirscher’s winning streak would stretch back over a year. That’s eight out of the last nine World Cup GS races he has contested, in addition to his Olympic and World Championship titles. Simply stunning.
“I’m super, super happy with today’s race,” said Hirscher. “It was definitely not easy to manage it down to the finish line, especially second run. I’m super excited to say that 10 years ago, I had my first World Cup podium of my career here in Kranjska Gora so it is kind of a birthday of 10 years of international ski racing at a pretty high level. I’m very thankful for this.”
Kristoffersen, who has admitted to dedicating much of his pre-season training to his GS form has had to play second fiddle all season, finishing second to Hirscher five times in GS this season, including an Olympic silver medal. The Norwegian has also landed on the podium 13 times this year, but only one victory.
“I’m pretty happy,” Kristoffersen said after the race. “I did a big mistake in the second run so I lost a lot of time there, but except that the skiing is pretty good. I kept it close until the last part in the first run to Marcel, but at the moment he’s just a little bit in his own league. We’re gonna keep on fighting and continue fighting this summer and work hard and we’ll see maybe if we can give him a little bit more of a fight next year in GS.”
France’s Alexis Pinturault found his way back on the World Cup podium for the first time since early January, rounding out the podium in third, 2.51 seconds adrift of Hircher. The Frenchman has a good relationship with Kranjska Gora, winning the GS in 2015 and 2016, but admitted to struggling to keep his post-Olympic energy levels high.
“I’m happy with the result because it was a really big fight against the others, but also against myself,” he shared. “This year, my goal was the Olympics so that’s the reason I cut out many, many World Cups. I would say that I am happy with my Olympics and the rest is more like a bonus, I would say.”
It was also a solid day for the Americans as Tommy Ford scored his second top 10 of the season in ninth, followed closely by Vermont’s Ryan Cochran-Siegle in 10th for his career-best GS finish. Tim Jitloff also landed in 14th, giving the Americans three athletes in the top 15. Ligety and Hig Roberts both ran into trouble on their first runs and were unable to finish.
“It was a fight,” said Ford. “Two big mistakes, one each run, but the skiing was there. It’s been a battle throughout the season and I’m glad to have this race today on this kind of snow. I know I can do it, but I’ve got some work to do. In between runs I kept it going and the plan continued throughout.”
“It was great,” added Cochran-Siegle, who also clocked in the third-fastest second run. “That’s what I look for when I’m ski racing, the ability to push and challenge myself all the way down the hill. That second run, I couldn’t be happier with it. I got to sit down in that winner’s box for a while which is always fun, too.”
The men will close out the weekend in Kranjska Gora with a slalom race on Sunday, March 4.
- Marcel Hirscher (AUT) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR) – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Alexis Pinturault (FRA) – Head/Head/Head
- Leif Kristian Nestvold-Haugen (NOR) – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Zan Kranjec (SLO) – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Manuel Feller (AUT) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Victor Mufat-Jeandet (FRA) – Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
- Rasmus Windingstad (NOR) – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Tommy Ford (USA) – Head/Head/Head
- Ryan Cochran-Siegle (USA) – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points||WC Points|
|4||8||421669||NESTVOLD-HAUGEN Leif Kristian||1987||NOR||1:11.76||1:11.78||2:23.54||+2.78||19.35||50|
|18||46||990051||BOSCA Giulio Giovanni||1990||ITA||1:13.82||1:13.08||2:26.90||+6.14||42.75||13|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|11||990116||DE ALIPRANDINI Luca||1990||ITA||1:12.57||0|
|Did not qualify for 2nd run|
|64||491853||DEL CAMPO Juan||1994||ESP||1:17.46||0|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|16||422139||KILDE Aleksander Aamodt||1992||NOR||0|