There was no offseason change atop the slalom hierarchy.
Marcel Hirscher cruised to victory in the first slalom of the World Cup season one day after Mikaela Shiffrin took the women’s race in Levi, Finland.
The reigning two-time World Cup overall champion posted a two-run time of 1 minute, 45.42 seconds to beat fellow Austrian Mario Matt by .62 of a second. Norwegian Henrik Kristoffersen came in third.
Hirscher, 24, received a reindeer as a prize, just as Shiffrin did Saturday. Shiffrin named hers, “Rudolph.” Hirscher named his, “Ferdinand,” after his father.
American Ted Ligety, who won three golds at the World Championships in February, improved from 24th after the first of two runs to finish 11th.
“I wouldn’t say that either run was all that impressive, but second run I skied a little bit more like I should be skiing from run to run,” Ligety said, according to the U.S. Ski Team. “But it’s still far from what I need to be doing in slalom. I need to be scoring in the top five to top three. I need to up it if this is going to be a meaningful route to getting me enough points (to win the overall World Cup title). I guess it’s not a horrible day to start out the slalom season.”
Levi’s a drag race. It’s the easiest course on the World Cup by far so the margins are super tight and the little mistakes cost you a ton of time. It makes it difficult to be one of the fastest guys because you really pay when you are a little bit off.
The World Cup season continues with speed races at Lake Louise, Alberta, on Thanksgiving weekend. The next slalom is in Val d’Isere, France, on Dec. 15.
Hirscher, who was second in Levi last year, has made six straight World Cup podiums dating to last season, when he made every slalom podium and won the World Championship.
Ligety, who emphasized slalom work in the offseason, posted his best World Cup slalom finish since an 11th in Adelboden, Switzerland, in January.
Levi World Cup Slalom
1. Marcel Hirscher (AUT) 1:45.42
2. Mario Matt (AUT) 1:46.04
3. Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR) 1:46.35
4. Ivica Kostelic (CRO) 1:46.64
5. Mattias Hargin (SWE) 1:46.71
6. Patrick Thaler (ITA) 1:47.15
7. Jean-Baptiste Grange (FRA) 1:47.17
8. Benjamin Raich (AUT) 1:47.21
9. Sebastian-Foss Solevaag (NOR) 1:47.24
10. Steve Missillier (FRA) 1:47.36
11. Ted Ligety (USA) 1:47.38
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