If you ask Marcel Hirscher, his giant slalom victory in Garmisch-Partenkirchen on Sunday was not his best race. But looking at the numbers, it’s almost impossible to fathom a more dominant performance.
Hirscher was fastest in the first run, fastest in the second run, amounting to a 3.28-second win over his closest competitor, hometown kid Felix Neureuther. With the victory, Hirscher all but locked up the GS title with a 188-point advantage over Ted Ligety, who finished fourth on the day. Ligety was outpaced by Benny Raich who earned his first World Cup podium in nearly a year.
“I tried my best,” said Hirscher. “There’s no conclusion why it worked that good today. I always give my best but I think today the conditions, the course setting worked pretty well for my setup and my style of skiing. Everything worked amazing. It is just unbelievable. … I risked everything, but there were other races where I felt much better.”
Because of this year’s schedule including the World Championships held in the U.S., the race marked the first men’s World Cup giant slalom since Adelboden on Jan. 10, seven weeks ago.
Hirscher said he was happy to be back skiing European snow, which he prefers over the North American variety featured at the World Championships where he took silver to Ligety’s gold. On Sunday, Hirscher skied a high, early line with unmatched physicality to secure the third-largest margin of victory in a men’s World Cup GS behind legend Ingemar Stenmark.
“I did nothing special today,” added Hirscher. “It’s really unbelievable because I just skied. … I think if you ask all the other athletes what was so special today … in each turn I caught up two or three hundredths of a second. In general, if you do this in every turn, it makes for a big gap. I think this is the reason for today’s amazing victory.”
For Neureuther, finishing runner-up on home snow is about as good as it gets, considering the insurmountable performance by the Austrian. In his second run, Neureuther skied a couple ragged turns out of the start but settled in nicely to hone his technical skills and build momentum in the middle and lower parts of the course. The second-place result marks Neureuther’s first GS podium in nearly a year.
“In front of the home crowd, it’s always something special to be on the podium,” Neureuther said. “For me, GS is a little bit different than slalom. Today I am very happy with my skiing and with the second place.
“Marcel of course is in a different league. … He’s skiing good. He’s skiing really good. Of course, today when the conditions are like that, when the course setting is like that, Marcel is not the tallest guy. He has a lot of strength in his legs. He can turn the skis as fast as nobody else.”
Similarly, Ligety said Hirscher’s skiing was “really impressive. First run was like skiing in one of those kiddie ball rooms where you jump into the pit. You have no ability to get anything out of the turn. (Hirscher) was the only one able to get anything out of the turn.”
After the race, Ligety acknowledged the gold medal in Beaver Creek was his “one bright spot” this season. “It was not the greatest year, that’s for sure. Luckily salvaged it with the World Championships.”
Tim Jitloff and Tommy Ford joined Ligety with strong results for the American team. Jitloff, who lives in Germany, found his stride in the afternoon with the second fastest second run behind Hirscher. Skiing a tight, aggressive line and making athletic recoveries, Jitloff jumped from from 24th after the first run to 10th after the later performance.
And Ford with a solid outing proved his top-20 finish at the World Championships was the real deal. The 25-year-old, who’s been slowly battling back from a broken femur two years ago, basically had the opposite experience from Jitloff: He skied a competitive, 13th-fastest first run but faltered in the second run to finish 23rd on the day.
“First run was a cranker,” said Ford. “The snow was good — took advantage of that and made clean turns the whole way. I was able to maintain movement the whole way down and stay strong through the finish. Got good position for second run and the snow changed a bit and I didn’t quite adapt.”
With the result, Ford earned his first World Cup points since 2012.
See more photos from this race here.
The Scoop By Hank McKee
- Hirscher, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Neureuther, Nordica/Nordica/Marker
- Raich, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Ligety, Head/Head/Head
- Pinturault, Head/Head/Head
- Janka, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
- Nani, Volkl/Fischer/Marker
- Haugen, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
- Muffat-Jeandet, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
- Jitloff, Stoeckli/Lange/Marker
Men’s World Cup giant slalom, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, March 1, 2015:
- It is the 29th of 38 races on the men’s schedule … the sixth of eight scheduled GS’s. … It is the 101st World Cup race hosted – at least in part – by Garmisch … just the fifth GS. … Alex Pinturault won the most recent GS at the site Feb. 24, 2013.
- It is the 30th career World Cup win for Marcel Hirscher … his 14th in GS. … It is his eighth win of the season including gold in alpine combined at the World Championships. … The winning margin is an astounding 3.28 seconds. … third largest in history in men’s GS, biggest since 1979. … The top 14 skiers are within five seconds.
- It is the 37th career World Cup podium placing for Felix Neureuther … his fourth in GS. … It is his second podium at Garmisch and his ninth podium of the season including one World Championship medal.
- It is the 93rd career World Cup podium for Benjamin Raich … his 35th in GS. … It is his first podium since March 8, 2014.
- It is the second straight GS in which Ted Ligety has missed the podium after a 17 of 18 string of podium placings. … It is the seventh career top 10 for Tim Jitloff … his second World Cup top 10 of the season. … It is the fourth best World Cup result for Dustin Cook. … All of his better results have come this season. … It is the first scoring result for Tommy Ford since Dec. 2, 2012.
- Hirscher leads the World Cup overall standings 1128-940 over Kjetil Jansrud (15th in race). … Alexis Pinturault is third overall with 744pts. … Ted Ligety is tenth with 470pts.
- Hirscher leads the GS standings 560-372 over Ligety with only two races remaining. Pinturault is third at 355pts. … Dustin Cook is the top Canadian in 29th place with 32pts.
- Austria leads the men’s Nations Cup 4552-2921 over France. … Italy is third with 2707pts. … The U.S. is seventh with 1538pts and Canada ninth with 488pts.
|8||13||421669||HAUGEN Leif Kristian||1987||NOR||1:26.17||1:21.46||2:47.63||+4.40||26.42|
|Did not qualify for 2nd run|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|56||192504||MERMILLOD BLONDIN Thomas||1984||FRA|
|Did not finish 1st run|