Marcel Hirscher took the first crystal globe of his career when he won the last giant slalom of the season and the discipline’s title at the alpine skiing World Cup finals yesterday.
The 23-year-old Austrian collected his ninth victory of the season, in a combined time of 2 minutes, 25.53 seconds, and almost secured the overall World Cup as well.
With only today’s slalom left, Hirscher holds a 25-point lead in the overall standings over Swiss Beat Feuz, who struggles in technical events.
Hirscher is also still in contention with Croatia’s Ivica Kostelic for the slalom World Cup and could finish off the season in style in front of his home crowd in today’s final day of competition.
The last giant slalom of the winter was an all-Austrian affair, with Hannes Reichelt finishing second and Marcel Mathis taking third place.
The suspense over the giant slalom title was cut short in the morning run as the only other contender, Ted Ligety of the US, straddled a gate and finished 11.16 seconds off the pace.
Ligety, the giant slalom world champion, had gone into the day 92 points behind Hirscher and needed to win the race and see the Austrian fail to get into the top 15 to retain his crystal globe in the discipline.
Ligety clocked the fastest time in the afternoon run, but the damage was done.
However, one man was even slower than Ligety in the race: Swiss Didier Cuche bid farewell to competition after 17 years on the circuit by cautiously completing the second leg using ski clothing and equipment dating from before World War II.
Meanwhile, Lindsey Vonn set a women’s World Cup points record when she reached 1,980 for the season with eighth place in a slalom race.
The World Cup champion passed the mark of 1,970 points set by Croatia’s Janica Kostelic in 2006.
Vonn has one more race, today’s giant slalom on the same course, to improve her total and aim at the men’s record of 2,000 points set by Austria’s Hermann Maier in 2000.
Twelfth place in the final race of the winter would be enough for the American to break the 2,000-point barrier.
Yesterday’s race victory went to Austria’s Michaela Kirchgasser, who clocked a combined time of 1 minute, 32.57 seconds to win her second slalom of the season after Kranjska Gora in January.
Veronika Zuzulova, fastest in the first leg, missed out on her first World Cup victory yet again, by 0.12 seconds. In eight seasons on the circuit, the Slovakian has earned 13 podium placings, but no wins.