Helped by the absence of his two main rivals for the overall World Cup title, Marcel Hirscher took full advantage yesterday to win the Bansko giant slalom.
Second after the first leg, the Austrian skied an impeccable second run to put maximum pressure on world champion Ted Ligety, the fastest man in the morning.
The American crashed out of contention, handing Hirscher his seventh victory of the season in a combined time of 2 minutes, 25.35 seconds. Italy’s Massimiliano Bardone was second, 1.39 seconds behind, for his third podium in succession in the discipline.
Twenty-year-old Austrian Marcel Mathis skied a sensational second run to earn his first World Cup top three spot.
“I believe this is one of my very best giant slalom runs,” said Hirscher, who had been lucky to survive a fault in the morning leg. “There are grounds to believe I can win the [overall] World Cup, but I take it one race at a time.”
“I just play it safe, that’s the way to do it. Every time I start a race, I close myself in, its just the piste, the skis and me,” he addded.
In the overall World Cup standings, Hirscher is now 118 points behind Croatia’s Ivica Kostelic, who is out for three weeks with a knee injury, and 48 behind Feuz.
The result was all the more surprising as the young Austrian had arrived in Bansko at 2am in the morning after racing in a European Cup race on Friday.
American Bode Miller spectacularly bowed out of contention in the morning run. He narrowly avoided crashing and acrobatically wriggled his way through the last gates before finishing his course only centimeters from the line.
A slalom on the same piste today could take Hirscher even closer to the World Cup top spot.
AFP, NAEBA, Japan
Canada’s Mikael Kingsbury claimed his eighth win of the season by taking gold in the single moguls in Naeba, Japan, yesterday to take the overall World Cup title with four races to go.
As reigning World Cup champion Guilbaut Colas of France could not compete this season because of back problems the 19-year-old from Quebec dominated with just one loss to Russian Serguey Volkov in the final at Deer Valley, Utah, earlier this month.
Kingsburg has a 421-point lead on second-placed American Jeremy Cota in the overall World Cup standings and and cannot be overtaken.
Olympic champion Hannah Kearney of the US won the women’s event for her 16th consecutive World Cup win.