The final men’s race of the FIS Alpine World Cup season culminated with the best skier in the world placing an exclamation point on an already remarkable season.
Having mathematically locked up the overall globe Saturday when Kjetil Jansrud unsurprisingly announced he would skip the slalom finale, Marcel Hirscher’s last race was more than just a victory lap of celebration. There was unfinished business as the Austrian trailed Felix Neureuther in the slalom standings 514-569. Assuming Hirscher claimed victory in the final race, the German needed to finish better than fifth to collect his first career small globe.
That task became all the more challenging after a first run in which Neureuther was quick through the first two intervals but made a huge mistake and nearly came to a standstill in a hairpin right before the finish. He finished the run 14th.
Meanwhile, Hirscher put the pressure on, skiing into third position, just 0.08 seconds behind the pace of first-run leader Stefano Gross of Italy, and setting the stage for a second-run showdown. If Hirscher had finished third or worse, Neureuther would own the title with a mere 15th-place result.
But there was no such luck for the German as Hirscher closed out the season with a clean, fast second-run effort to take a 0.83-second margin of victory over Giuiliano Razzoli of Italy. Alexander Khoroshilov of Russia was third and, with a surprisingly conservative performance on the second run, Neureuther ultimately finished 12th.
“It was definitely a tough situation. I’m really sorry for Felix. He was so close to his first globe, but that is part of our sport. For me, I am super happy,” said Hirscher. “There was really no pressure. There is only one opportunity, and it just means give 100 percent as fast as you can. There is no tactics. If it works well, then everything is perfect. If I ski out, then that’s not bad at all either.”
For Neureuther, whose season got a slightly delayed start after a back injury kept him on the sidelines for Soelden, his relinquishment of the lead in the final race was a hard reality to accept.
“It’s tough for me. I have to say much respect for Marcel. He did an amazing job today,” said Neureuther. “Marcel won the overall globe, the GS globe. Of course maybe for him it was a little bit easier than the last race. He had nothing to lose, and I didn’t feel that good anymore the last two weeks. My back didn’t feel that good anymore. And then, yeah, it goes quick in skiing.”
Frenchman Julien Lizeroux shocked the crowd when he accidentally somersaulted out of the start on his first run. After misplanting his pole and rolling forward, the 35-year-old athletically recovered and continued nearly unfazed except for straddling the first gate which required him to hike. Still, the feat was nothing shy of impressive as he continued down the course and returned for his second run.
David Chodounsky was the lone American representative in the afternoon leg of the race. After skiing to 19th in the first run, Chodounsky got late, twisted up and skied out of the course on the second run. Ted Ligety skied to 22nd in the first run but opted to sit out of the second run which likely would have proven a challenge to pick up points anyway. After a long and arduous winter, the American will head home and look forward to next season.
View more photos from the race here.
By Hank McKee
- Hirscher, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Razzoli, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Khoroshilov, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Pinturault, Head/Head/Head
- Myhrer, Head/Head/Head
- Gross, Volkl/Tecnica/Marker
- Kristoffersen, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
- Foss-Solevaag, Volkl/Fischer/Marker
- Grange, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Dopfer, Nordica/Nordica
Men’s World Cup slalom, Meribel, France, March 22, 2015:
- It is the 38th race of the men’s 38 race 2015 World Cup calendar. … The final men’s race of the season. … It is the final of 11 scheduled slaloms with one cancellation. … It is the 15th World Cup race hosted by Meribel. … The seventh this season. … It is – by rule at World Cup Finals – an invitation only race with scoring limited to the top 15 finishers. … Meribel has not previously hosted a men’s slalom.
- It is the 31st career World Cup victory for Marcel Hirscher … his 16th in slalom. … It is his ninth win of the season including the combined gold medal at World Championships. … The winning margin is .83 of a second… Top two finishers are within the same second, top 10 within two seconds.
- It is the ninth career World Cup podium placing for Giuliano Razzoli … his second podium of the season and second of the month having also placed second at Kranjska Gora March 15.
- It is the third career World Cup podium placing for Alexander Khoroshilov, all of them in slalom and all this season.
- Hirscher takes the World Cup overall title 1448-1288 over Kjetil Jansrud (did not race). … Alexis Pinturault finishes third with 1006pts. … It is Hirscher’s fourth straight overall title. … Among men he joins Hermann Maier, Pirmin Zurbiggen and Gustavo Theoni in second on the all-time overall list behind Marc Girardelli’s five.
- Hirscher also takes the slalom title 614-591 over Felix Neureuther (12th in race). … It is Hirscher’s third straight slalom crown. … He joins Jean-Noel Augert, Girardelli, and Benjamin Raich in third among men in the all-time list behind Ingemar Stenmark’s eight slalom titles and Alberto Tomba’s four.
- Other notable North Americans overall include: Ted Ligety 11th 560pts; Steven Nyman 26th 346pts; Travis Ganong 29th 294pts; Dustin Cook 30th 271pts.
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