Hirscher Perfect in Alta Badia
It didn’t take long for Austria’s Marcel Hirscher to bounce back from a disappointing (by his standards, anyways) third-place finish in last weekend’s Val d’Isere giant slalom as the living legend put on a GS masterclass in Alta Badia, Italy, on Sunday, taking the race by a whopping 1.70 seconds.
Although Sunday’s weather was ideal for a ski race with partly cloudy skies and brisk winter air filling the Val Badia, due to the Gran Risa’s North-facing slope and thick tree cover, the entire track was cast in dark shadow for both the first and second run. Hirscher didn’t miss a beat, winning both runs and firmly placing himself at the top of the GS world.
“Ski racing is not very often fun during the race, it’s a hard fight,” admitted Hirscher. “It is hard work but crossing the finish line and seeing that the lights are green, this is fun. Skiing on the limit is always for every athlete a big challenge. Training yesterday was not so good and I wasn’t expecting that I can find the perfect setup, especially in the second run. All in all, I think this was they key to the success for today’s victory.”
Second place went to Hirscher’s Norwegian Rival Henrik Kristoffersen with Zan Kranjec bettering his fourth-place finish a year ago for the Slovenian’s first carer World Cup podium in third. The duo finished 1.70 and 1.82 seconds off of Hirscher’s blistering pace, respectively.
Kranjec’s podium was also the first Slovenian men’s GS podium since Uros Pavlovcic finished third in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, in 2001. Pavlocic now coaches for the Buck Hill Ski Racing Team in the United States.
“After one day I said to myself how I’m going to make a step forward and I’m very happy I made the podium today,” Kranjec said after the race. “Slovenia went a long time to have a podium in GS so I’m really happy that I made that happen again and I will try to keep it happening.”
American Ted Ligety continues to head in the right direction, snagging his first top-five finish of the season in fifth place. According to U.S men’s head coach Sasha Rearick, Sunday was an important stepping stone as Ligety continues his return from injury with the number-one goal of returning to the top seven ranked starters by the Olympics in February.
“I was really stoked with how he was able to adapt to the snow and the course set,” Rearick said after the race. “It was a good challenge, good adaptation, and we see the race horse starting to come out. The very bottom of the course both runs kind of cost him, that’s the difference.”
Always looking to improve, Ligety noted just how powerful and clean on his edges Hirscher was, especially in a much rougher second run that saw many racers slip in the rankings.
“It was better, nice to be in the top five,” said Ligety. “I definitely want to be a few steps faster than that. Marcel definitely skied very impressive that second run so I’ll have to watch that a little bit. It looked like he was just clean through the snow while a lot of guys were bouncing around. It’s aggressive snow and on this kind of hill you need to hit with hard pressure and that often times means you get bounced a little off your skis and his skis are running smooth and clean, it was impressive.”
Tommy Ford was sitting in 23rd place after the first run and was looking strong before getting bounced out of the course midway down his second run. The rest of the American contingent of David Chodounsky, Tim Jitloff, Hig Roberts, and Ryan Cochran-Siegle did not qualify for a second run.
The men will race a parallel GS under the lights on Monday in Alta Badia.
- Marcel Hirscher (AUT) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR) – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Zan Kranjec (SLO) – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Justin Murisier (SUI) – Voelkl/Dalbello/Marker
- Ted Ligety (USA) – Head/Head/Head
- Matts Olsson (SWE) – Head/Head/Head
- Manuel Feller (AUT) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Luca De Aliprandini (ITA) – Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
- Alexis Pinturault (FRA) – Head/Head/Head
- Leif Kristian Nestvold-Haugen (NOR) – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points||WC Points|
|8||11||990116||DE ALIPRANDINI Luca||1990||ITA||1:13.30||1:14.62||2:27.92||+2.50||16.85||32.00|
|10||5||421669||NESTVOLD-HAUGEN Leif Kristian||1987||NOR||1:12.93||1:15.34||2:28.27||+2.85||19.21||26.00|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not qualify for 2nd run|
|17||422139||KILDE Aleksander Aamodt||1992||NOR||1:15.17|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|75||54106||BREITFUSS KAMMERLANDER Simon||1992||BOL|
|Did not start 1st run|