Marcel Hirscher

Marcel Hirscher adds slalom globe to World Cup overall title

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Austrian Marcel Hirscher won the World Cup Finals slalom and with it the 2013-14 discipline title in the last race of the season Sunday.

Hirscher came into the finale with a five-point lead on German Felix Neureuther, whose giant slalom finish Saturday denied Hirscher the season title in that discipline. American Ted Ligety won the giant slalom crystal globe instead.

On Sunday, Hirscher led Neureuther by .06 of a second after the first of two runs on a course deemed unfair by the German team director and “ridiculous” by Ligety, according to The Associated Press.

Hirscher would go last in the second run on the Lenzerheide, Switzerland, course. Neureuther went right before him and laid down the fastest two-run time. Hirscher needed to beat Neureuther to win his second straight slalom crystal globe.

“Maybe 10 seconds before I was starting out of the starting gate, I asked my physio about Felix, was he in front,” Hirscher said. “Yeah, he is.”

Hirscher lost his lead and was dead even with Neureuther after the final split but picked up .76 of a second over the final 20 seconds. He won comfortably.

The Austrian crossed the finish line and dipped into a sitting position over his skis, wagging both index fingers in the air. Despite that, he said he wasn’t totally confident during his run.

“I never expect that I am that fast,” Hirscher said. “I made a lot of mistakes. … It was a big surprise for me.”

Hirscher’s victory meant that all five crystal globes went to the same men as last year. Hirscher also won the overall title for the third straight year, becoming only the fourth man to do so.

Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal won the downhill and super-G titles again. Ligety won his fifth giant slalom title in seven years.

Hirscher, who won Olympic slalom silver, enters next season with a great chance to become the first man to win four straight World Cup overall titles.

He’s only 25, perhaps not having reached his peak yet. His closest competition in the overall, Svindal, is 31 and had a poor finish to this season. Svindal won no medals at the Olympics.

Ligety finished 12th Sunday and fourth in the overall standings after taking third last season. He’s said he wished his slalom was better this year, giving him something to work on before next fall.

Lenzerheide Slalom
1. Marcel Hirscher (AUT) 2:07.74
2. Felix Neureuther (GER) 2:08.50
3. Mario Matt (AUT) 2:08.82
4. Stefano Gross (ITA) 2:09.64
5. Markus Larsson (SWE) 2:09.96
6. Axel Baeck (SWE) 2:10.02
7. Manfred Moelgg (ITA) 2:10.20
8. Patrick Thaler (ITA) 2:10.23
9. Alexis Pinturault (FRA) 2:10.51
10. Ivica Kostelic (CRO) 2:10.64
12. Ted Ligety (USA) 2:10.89
18. David Chodounsky (USA) 2:13.14
DNF. Bode Miller (USA)

Final World Cup Slalom Standings
1. Marcel Hirscher (AUT) — 565
2. Felix Neureuther (GER) — 550
3. Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR) — 454

Final World Cup Overall Standings
1. Marcel Hirscher (AUT) — 1,222
2. Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) — 1,091
3. Alexis Pinturault (FRA) — 1,028
4. Ted Ligety (USA) — 991
5. Felix Neureuther (GER) — 813
6. Kjetil Jansrud (NOR) — 657
7. Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR) — 639
8. Bode Miller (USA) — 633
9. Matthias Mayer (AUT) — 602
10. Patrick Kueng (SUI) — 562

Video: Ligety wins GS season title in dramatic fashion

Pyeongchang Olympic organizers optimistic with 500 days to go

Security personnel stands by a logo of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games before an event to mark the start of the 500-day countdown in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016. With 500 days until the Olympic cauldron is ignited in Pyeongchang, organizers of the 2018 Winter Games say 90 percent of construction on new venues is complete and the focus of preparations is on test events. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Marking the 500-day countdown to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, organizers said Tuesday that 90 percent of construction of new venues is complete and the focus is now on preparing for test events.

Pyeongchang’s organizing committee said construction is on schedule for a series of sports competitions scheduled from November to April that will serve as rehearsals for the Olympics, which begin Feb. 9, 2018.

The six new competition venues for the games are now 88 percent complete and a new high-speed rail line – designed to link the country’s main gateway of Incheon airport with Pyeongchang in less than two hours – will be completed next June and start operations in January 2018, organizers said.

The preparations are undergoing a transition from the “planning phase to operational readiness,” the organizing committee said in a statement.

“Asia has immeasurable potential to become the frontier of winter sports. Pyeongchang has been dedicated to promote winter sports and attract investments throughout Asia,” the committee said.

Noting that the 2018 Games will be the first of three consecutive Olympics in Asia, the committee said Pyeongchang will be an “opportunity to establish even closer links among the next host countries and build bridges through sports.”

Tokyo will host the 2020 Summer Olympics, while Beijing will stage the 2022 Winter Games.

Pyeongchang organizers have overcome delays, local conflicts over venue constructions and difficulties attracting domestic sponsorships in past years. Optimism over preparations has increased after the successful hosting of the first round of test events at Alpine venues earlier this year.

Despite a slow start, organizers say more than 80 percent of the domestic sponsorship target of $850 million has been met and that they expect to reach 90 percent of the target by the end of the year.

A program of cultural events featuring pop singers and local sports stars was held in Seoul on Tuesday evening to mark the start of the countdown.

MORE: 500 Days to Pyeongchang: Five athletes to watch

500 Days to Pyeongchang: Five athletes to watch

PARK CITY, UT - FEBRUARY 06:  Chloe Kim celebrates a first place finish in the ladies' FIS Snowboard World Cup at the 2016 U.S Snowboarding Park City Grand Prix on February 6, 2016 in Park City, Utah.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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Today marks 500 days until the Opening Ceremony of 2018 Winter Olympics.

Below are five U.S. athletes to get to know before February 9, 2018:

Ryan Bailey (Bobsled): Bailey, who finished fifth as a sprinter in the London Olympic 100m, is attempting to compete at the 2018 Olympics as a bobsledder. On Sept. 21, just weeks into his bobsled career, he won the men’s push athlete national title. The last male Summer Olympian to make a U.S. Olympic bobsled team was Willie Davenport in 1980.

MORE: Converted sprinter Ryan Bailey wins bobsled national title

Brittany Bowe and Heather Richardson (Speed Skating): Bowe and Richardson have been trading world records in recent years. Last November, Bowe broke her own women’s 1000m world record, only to have Richardson lower it just three minutes later. A week later, Bowe broke the world record in the event once again.

MORE: Dan Jansen explains recent flurry of world records

Meryl Davis and Charlie White (Figure Skating): The future is uncertain for Davis and White, who became the first U.S. couple to win an Olympic ice dance title in Sochi. They have not competed since the 2014 Olympics, but they have also not announced their retirement.

MORE: Where Meryl Davis, Charlie White stand on possible comeback

Chloe Kim (Snowboarding): Kim mathematically qualified for the 2014 U.S. Olympic team in halfpipe, but at 13, she was not old enough to be eligible to compete in Sochi. A U.S. woman has won gold in the event at three of the past four Olympics, but Kaitlyn Farrington, who won halfpipe gold in Sochi, retired after being diagnosed with a spinal condition.

MORE: Kaitlyn Farrington retires from snowboarding

Mikaela Shiffrin (Alpine Skiing): Shiffrin became the youngest Olympic slalom champion at the 2014 Games, when she was 18. Four years later, she is hoping to become the first Alpine skier — man or woman — to repeat as slalom gold medalist. She also could become the first U.S. women’s Alpine skier to win gold medals in multiple Olympics.