Tommy Ford

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Tommy Ford ends U.S. men’s World Cup drought at Beaver Creek

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Tommy Ford earned his first World Cup win at age 30 and ended the U.S. men’s longest victory and podium droughts in two decades.

Ford won the giant slalom in Beaver Creek, Colo., on Sunday, the last North American race on tour this season. He prevailed by eight tenths of a second combining times over two runs.

“It doesn’t beat doing it here. I’ve been working hard,” Ford said on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA. “No secret, just kept it simple and really trusted what I was doing.”

Norwegians Henrik Kristoffersen and Leif Kristian Nestvold-Haugen were second and third. American Ted Ligety, fourth after the opening run, finished 11th.

Full results are here.

Ford became the first U.S. man to win a World Cup since Travis Ganong took a downhill on Jan. 27, 2017. He also became the first U.S. male podium finisher since Ligety in January 2018. Both were the longest droughts for the program since the late 1990s.

Ford, a 2010 and 2018 Olympian who missed the 2014 Olympics due to a broken femur, had been working toward this moment.

He finished a World Cup career-high fourth at the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, on Oct. 27. Last season, the Oregon native and former Dartmouth student had a pair of fifths.

The men’s World Cup moves to Val d’Isere, France, next weekend for a giant slalom and slalom.

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Alexis Pinturault wins World Cup opener; Americans just miss podium

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SOELDEN, Austria (AP) — Widely regarded a main candidate to succeed retired Marcel Hirscher as World Cup overall champion, Alexis Pinturault passed his first test with flying colors on Sunday.

He beat teammate Mathieu Faivre to lead a French one-two finish in the World Cup season-opening giant slalom in spring-like, sunny conditions on the Rettenbach mountain glacier.

Pinturault held a slim lead of two-hundredths of a second over Faivre after the opening run but extended the margin to 0.54 in the final leg. It was the 12th time that Pinturault led a race after the first leg, and the ninth time he held on to the advantage to win the race.

“Everything is working really well, I have a good team around me,” Pinturault said. “That’s something that brings me a lot of self-confidence.”

Zan Kranjec of Slovenia came 0.63 behind in third, followed by American duo Tommy Ford and Ted Ligety, who trailed by 0.70 and 1.09, respectively.

Ford, with his best career World Cup finish, and Ligety, with his best since January 2018, came close to ending the U.S. men’s program’s longest World Cup podium drought in two decades. The American men had zero World Cup podiums last season for the first time since 1997-98.

Lucas Braathen of Norway posted the fastest second run to climb from 23rd to sixth, 1.10 behind Pinturault, while Swiss prospect Marco Odermatt dropped from third to 13th after coming wide on a left turn halfway down his final run.

Pinturault finished runner-up to Hirscher in the overall standings last season, making him one of the favorites to take over from the record eight-time champion from Austria as winner of the sport’s biggest prize.

“It’s not so easy for us that Marcel isn’t there anymore,” Pinturault said. “We have a lot of pressure, more than before. Usually all the pressure was on Marcel. But this is a wonderful start for me.”

Pinturault also won the traditional first GS of the season in the Austrian Alps when it was last held in 2016. The race was canceled due to bad weather in the past two years.

Sunday’s win was Pinturault’s 24th career victory, and 12th in giant slalom. He also won Olympic bronze in the discipline in 2018.

“This was the first event of the new season, you had to get used to racing again,” said Pinturault, adding it was “cool, a super start” for the French team to place 1-2.

The result came as a surprise for Faivre, who said before the race that his start in Soelden had been doubtful after back problems affected his pre-season training.

“It was a tough summer because of the injury. We didn’t really know how long it would take for me to heal,” Faivre said. “But training the last two weeks went very well. I had a lot of fun.”

While France led with the top-two spots, the U.S. ski team had an excellent start to the season as well with Ford and Ligety’s achievements backed up by Ryan Cochran-Siegle finishing in 11th.

Ford improved one spot from his previous best — a fifth place in Alta Badia, Italy, last season — on a hill where he had never scored World Cup points before.

“I am feeling strong. My first run was just solid skiing, real safe. The second run I definitely trusted it more and let it go. Psyched with this personal best,” said Ford, who posted a photo from the race on his Instagram account and wrote: “Nice way to score points for the first time in Sölden.”

In sharp contrast to Pinturault, another favorite in the post-Hirscher era struggled in the opening race.

GS world champion Henrik Kristoffersen failed to find his rhythm in the opening run and finished eight-tenth behind Pinturault, before he almost skied out in the final run, losing control of his inside ski in a wide left turn. The Norwegian ended up more than two seconds off the lead in 18th.

“It was a classic mistake that cost me,” Kristoffersen said. “But it’s only the first race of the season.”

The anticipated season-long duel between Pinturault and Kristoffersen will go into its next round at a slalom in Levi, Finland, on Nov. 24.

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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