In stark contrast to Friday’s postcard weather, Saturday’s giant slalom in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, was marred by poor visibility, an icy surface, and rough course conditions with racers holding nothing back as they battled it out down the legendary Podkoren 3 slope.
After the (wet) snow had settled at the conclusion of a shortened, nail-biting second run, Austria’s Marcel Hirscher managed to snap Frenchman Alexis Pinturault’s GS win streak and guarantee his fourth career GS crystal globe with one race to spare.
Pinturault looked to be on his way to a fifth consecutive GS victory after crossing the line with a lead of over one second with only Hirscher left at the start. The Austrian appeared to be letting yet another GS slip through his fingers during the second run as he lost time on the upper sections of the course. However, managing to find an extra gear on the bottom, he built upon his advantage and crossed the line 0.53 seconds up for the win.
“First run was maybe the most difficult run I have ever skied in eight years of World Cup giant slalom,” Hirscher said. “It was so bumpy and rough. Second run with the shorter distance was quite difficult because conditions changed a little bit. The crowd was amazing so I exactly knew that Henrik and Alexis had done it really great so I knew I had to give my 100 percent personal best. I tried as hard as possible for me and took the risk of winning or losing for me and I won.”
It was a bittersweet day for Pinturault, who saw the door to the GS globe abruptly shut, as he was left more than 100 points adrift of Hirscher in the standings with only the St. Moritz Finals left to contest. The Frenchman still has a lot to be proud of, however, as four GS wins in a row is nothing to scoff at, especially given his early season struggles.
“First run was really tough because it was super hard and icy,” Pinturault explained. “I think it was on the limit in the first run more than on the second run. Obviously, it was a good fight. I tried to make my best, but Marcel was stronger than me today. I didn’t lose the globe today, I lose the globe from the beginning of the winter, so this way I am not disappointed.”
For Norwegian Kristoffersen, the dual with Hirscher in the overall standings seems to have been decided as well, with Hirscher pulling 333 points clear of the technical specialist with three tech races remaining on the schedule. Unless Kristoffersen decides to test his speed legs next week in Kvitfjell, Hirscher will hoist his fifth overall World Cup title in a row in St. Moritz.
“First run was one of the bumpiest GS I’ve ever done on the World Cup,” said Kristoffersen. “I tried to push it in the second run, Marcel was so fast today. Overall, I have to be pretty happy with the day. Marcel and Alexis are the two best GS racers in the world this year for sure without a doubt and I think I’m not too far off saying I’m the third, but I still have a bit of a way to go before I’m at their level.”
For the Americans, Vermonter Ryan Cochran-Siegle managed to land in 20th place after the first run – his first World Cup GS second run appearance – but was unable to finish his second run clean and wound up in 30th place, 11.90 seconds back and outside of the scoring margin. It has been a frustrating year for the American men in GS. With Ted Ligety sidelined with injury, the team struggled to get much going in the later half of the season and undoubtedly looks forward to finishing the season strong at the Continental Cup level.
“My hand hit a hole and I lost my pole and then I just kind of scrambled after that, went in too straight on another gate and then booted out,” explained Cochran-Siegle. “First run was just hectic. I was just trying to be as clean as possible but the snow conditions were pretty tough and I actually managed to ski it pretty well considering, so I’m pretty happy with that.”
Another noteworthy performance on the day was that of young Swiss racer Loic Meillard, who managed to crack the top 10 in ninth, collecting just his second career World Cup scoring result after a 27th-place finish last week in Hinterstoder.
Sunday’s slalom action from Kranjska Gora is set to get underway at 9:30 a.m. CET.
By Hank McKee
- Hirscher, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Pinturault, Head/Head/Head
- Kristoffersen, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
- Neureuther, Nordica/Nordica/Marker
- Fanara, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Schoerghofer, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Feller, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Meillard, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
- Luitz, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
- Murisier, Voelkl/Dalbello/Marker
- Men’s World Cup giant slalom Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, March 5, 2016. … It is the fourth men’s GS in nine days and the tenth of 11 scheduled, leaving just World Cup finals in St. Moritz March 19. … It is the 37th of 45 scheduled races with one cancellation.
- It is the 38th career World Cup win for Marcel Hirscher. … His seventh of the season. … It is his fourth GS win of the season and eighth GS podium. … It is his first win at Kranjska Gora since 2010. … The winning margin is 0.53 of a second. … Top two within the same second. … top five within two seconds… top 13 within three seconds.
- It is the 35th career World Cup podium for Alexis Pinturault and 19th in GS. … It is his seventh World Cup podium of the season, the rest all wins. … It is his 10th World Cup podium at Kranjska Gora.
- It is the 22nd career World Cup podium for Henrik Kristoffersen. … The 11th this season. … It is his fourth podium at Kranjska Gora.
- It is the sixth career top 30 result for Ryan Cochran-Siegle. … His first of the season, but he will not score points for the effort.
- Hirscher controls the World Cup overall standings 1525-1192 over Henrik Kristoffersen. … Pinturault is third with 1040pts.
- Hirscher leads the GS standings 721-610 over Pinturault and with one race remaining cannot be beaten for the discipline crown. … It is his fourth GS title having also won in 2012, 2014, and 2015.
- Austria leads the men’s Nations Cup 4942-4744 over France. … Norway is third with 4090pts. … The U.S. is seventh at 1745 and Canada 10th with 524pts.
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points|
|12||15||421669||HAUGEN Leif Kristian||1987||NOR||1:15.51||59.78||2:15.29||+2.71||20.03|
|Disqualified 1st run|
|Did not start 1st run|
|Did not qualify for 2nd run|
|71||30149||SIMARI BIRKNER Cristian Javier||1980||ARG|
|47||422112||PATRICKSSON Axel William||1992||NOR|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|31||422139||KILDE Aleksander Aamodt||1992||NOR|
|26||990116||DE ALIPRANDINI Luca||1990||ITA|