Defending World Cup champion Marcel Hirscher of Austria protected his first-run lead to comfortably win the giant slalom race yesterday at Val d’Isere after challenger Alexis Pinturault of France made a clumsy mistake three gates from the end.
Hirscher, who was third in Saturday’s slalom, finished 1.16 seconds ahead of Germany’s Stefan Luitz, with American Ted Ligety climbing up from sixth to finish 1.42 behind in third place on the Stade Olympique de Bellevarde course.
The 20-year-old Luitz had by far the best time of the afternoon to climb from 25th after his first run and secure the first podium of his career.
“It’s hard to believe, but I had the perfect start conditions early on with the [better] light and visibility,” Luitz, who is in the German army, said through a translator. “I knew there was a chance to do something. I think it will take all night for this to really sink in.”
Pinturault was left just as stunned as the home fans by his own error as he caught an inside ski and put his hand down with the finish line in sight, missing out on the chance of a second straight success after winning Saturday’s slalom. He had been second after the first run, but finished 28th.
Ligety has three giant slalom podiums this season and was looking for a hat-trick of victories after winning the last two races.
“Val d’Isere’s always tough, it’s not a hill I particularly like,” Ligety said. “It’s not very user friendly, it’s very steep the whole way.”
Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway, who finished sixth, leads the overall standings with 440 points, while Ligety is in second place with 402 and Hirscher is third on 380.
WOMEN’S GIANT SLALOM
Reuters, ST MORITZ, Switzerland
Tina Maze increased her lead in the overall Alpine ski World Cup standings when she won her third victory in as many giant slaloms yesterday.
The Slovenian’s fourth win of the season put her on 677 points, ahead of Germany’s Maria Hoefl-Riesch by 234 points while American Lindsey Vonn lies third, a further 29 points behind.
Maze clocked two minutes, 11.07 seconds to upstage Vitkoria Rebensburg by 0.08 seconds, while France’s Tessa Worley was third.