Thomas Fanara

Marcel Hirscher clinches World Cup giant slalom crystal globe

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With a wild ride in his second run of giant slalom, Austria’s Marcel Hirscher locked up his first World Cup crystal globe of the 2018-19 season in Bansko, Bulgaria.

In his final run, Hirscher had to repeatedly reign in his skis, looking like he might lose control at any moment as he pressed to get the win. Hirscher ducked through the finish, .04 hundredths of a second behind his Norwegian rival, Henrik Kristoffersen, but second place gave him the points he needed to grab the globe. It’s Hirscher’s fifth-consecutive globe win in the discipline, and sixth of his career.

Kristoffersen also relegated Hirscher to second place in the GS at last week’s world championships. Joining the two Alpine heavyweights on the podium in third was, France’s Thomas Fanara.  

Full results are here.

With the way the races have been running, Hirscher is expected to close out his World Cup season in March with his eighth-consecutive overall World Cup crystal globe win, as well as his sixth globe win in slalom.

The U.S.’ Tommy Ford once again cracked the top 10 for the fourth time this World Cup season, finishing the day in ninth.

The women’s tour finished their weekend in the Swiss Alps at Crans-Montana with the Alpine super combined. After one downhill and one slalom run, Italy’s Frederica Brignone claimed the win, with Canada’s Roni Remme and Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener finishing in second and third, respectively.

Full results are here.

Next weekend in World Cup racing, both the men and women compete in downhill and Super-G, but in separate locations. The men’s tour heads to Kvitfjell, Norway while the women’s tour makes camp in Sochi, Russia. Check out the full schedule below for ways to watch the events live.

ALPINE SKIING WORLD CUP — Kvitfjell, Norway; Sochi, Russia

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Friday 5:00 a.m. Men’s Downhill OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
Saturday 2:30 p.m. Women’s Downhill OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
4:00 a.m. Men’s Downhill Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
Sunday 1:00 a.m. Women’s Downhill* NBCSN
2:30 a.m. Women’s Super-G Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
5:30 a.m. Men’s Super-G Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
4:00 p.m. Women’s Super-G* NBCSN

*Same-day and next day delay

Marcel Hirscher secures GS win with second run magic

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A mid-race fog rolled in and put the brakes on the men’s giant slalom event in Adelboden, Switzerland. Austria’s Marcel Hirscher was forced into a holding pattern, while sitting in second place behind Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen, after his first run.

After a 45-minute delay, the skiers got the all clear, and Hirscher roared back to win his fourth GS of the season.

Hirscher attacked the course in his second run to take the lead by just over a second. With no room for error, Kristoffersen dropped in, but halfway down course it was apparent the Norwegian would not have the speed to overtake Hirscher. Kristoffersen finished in second, .71 hundredths of a second behind Hirscher. France’s Thomas Fanara finished third for his second GS podium of the season. Full results are here.

The giant slalom in Adelboden marked Hirscher’s attempt to reclaim the top podium spot after he opened the 2018-19 season with three-straight GS wins. Hirscher then dropped out of the top three, placing sixth in the fourth installment in Saalbach back in December.

At the conclusion of the first run in Adelboden, Kristoffersen clung to a slim .12 hundredths of a second lead over Hirscher. When asked about having to go “all in” on his second run after the race, Hirscher explained his strategy.

“It’s always important to give 100%, and on the other hand, to have [the] perfect setup on my feet,” Hirsher explained. “And it worked amazing on my second run.”

Knowing he had to compete with Hirscher, Kristoffersen went all in when he blasted out of the start gate for his opening run. Kristoffersen was in full control of his line through the midsection of the course. Only as he made his final turn toward the finish did it appear his body was starting to feel the punishment of the mountain. The Norwegian elicited an audible gasp from the grandstand when he caught more air than he may have expected, just two gates from the finish.

Tommy Ford laid down some impressive first tracks for U.S. skiers, positioning himself in 5th, .39 hundredths of a second behind the lead, after his opening run. Ford made a play for the podium, placing third after finishing his second run with a “rough ride” as he called it as he caught his breathe at the bottom. Unfortunately for Ford, at that point too many heavy hitters remained in the start gate. Ford finished in sixth, a personal best a Adelboden, on a course which Hirscher described after the race as “maybe the hardest GS in the world.”

Also skiing for the U.S., Ted Ligety showed his grit as he battled pain to finish the day in 16th. Ligety’s health continues to be his biggest hurdle. He underwent back surgery which ended his 2016-17 World Cup season, but the five-time GS Crystal Globe winner was able to bounce back for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. His best finish this season came in Beaver Creek, when he finished 7th in the GS.

Tomorrow in Adelboden, the men are back on the slopes competing in slalom. Watch the second run on Olympic Channel or stream it on NBC Sports Gold at 7:30 a.m. EST.

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Ted Ligety wins World Cup season opener

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SOELDEN, Austria (AP) — American standout Ted Ligety earned his 25th career World Cup win Sunday, overcoming a tough course to take the season-opening giant slalom.

Trying to regain dominance in his strongest discipline, the Olympic and world GS champion held on to his first-run lead to beat Thomas Fanara of France by 0.15 and Marcel Hirscher of Austria by 0.17. The rest of the field finished at least 1.90 seconds off the lead.

“It was tough. I am a little bit surprised I made it to the finish line as it’s a battlefield out there,” Ligety said. “So many ruts in there and tough to see so I just tried to hammer and look for speed.”

The victory marked Ligety’s 50th podium finish in a World Cup race. He became the third American male skier to reach the feat after Bode Miller (79), who is skipping this season, and Phil Mahre (69).

It was Ligety’s fourth win on the Rettenbach glacier. The Austrian resort, which features an icy course with a steep pitch, is the traditional venue for the first race of the Alpine skiing season.

“The hill has been treating me well but Soelden is not a feel-good hill. I didn’t feel great,” Ligety said between runs. He finished in a two-run combined time of 2 minutes, 23.88 seconds.

The American has dominated the discipline since 2012 but was beaten for the GS title by Hirscher last year. The Austrian went on to win his fourth overall title.

Hirscher won here last year but settled for finishing third this time.

“It went better than I expected,” he said. “I am very relieved that I am there among the best. You see the other guys getting stronger so I have to keep up with their progress.”

Ligety made no secret that regaining the GS season title from Hirscher is his main priority.

“My big goal for the season is trying to get the giant slalom title back,” said Ligety, who didn’t rate high his chances to take the overall championship, even after the perfect start to the new season.

“A bunch of little things have to come together to make that possible,” the American said. “But I am definitely an outsider contender.”

A good offseason preparation laid the base for Ligety’s strong performance. Training camps in Chile and New Zealand allowed him to train much more on snow than before the previous season, which was disappointing apart from defending his world GS title.

“I am the type of skier that needs a lot of volume,” he said. “I ski a lot more than most skiers do. Because I do all the events but also because for me to get my confidence, I need more miles than most guys.”

Norwegians Aksel Lund Svindal and Kjetil Jansrud, expected to be Hirscher’s closest competitors for the overall championship, finished more than four seconds off the lead in 24th and 25th respectively.

“I wish I could be little bit faster. I am not happy but I can understand it,” Jansrud said, referring to the tough hill.

Alexis Pinturault, who has finished in the top 10 of the overall standings for four straight years while placing third in the past two seasons, came 2.01 behind in fifth.

The next men’s World Cup race is a slalom in Levi, Finland, on Nov. 15.

MORE ALPINE SKIING: Men’s season preview