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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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High winds, snow force cancellation of men’s World Cup opener

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Winds gusting up to 75 mph on Rettenbach Glacier forced the cancellation of the opening giant slalom World Cup event for the men in Sölden, Austria on Sunday.

“The local authority, the organizing committee and the race jury came together at 5:30 AM this morning to evaluate the situation on the glacier,” said FIS Chief Race Director Markus Waldner in an announcement on FIS-ski.com.

“At first, we decided to stand by and delay the final decision to 6:45 AM. However, the situation didn’t improve and according to the updated forecast the wind gusts will get even stronger and the safety can no longer be guaranteed. Safety comes first, we had no other choice than to cancel.”

According to FIS rules, races cancelled during the World Cup opening event are not rescheduled, meaning there will now be one less giant slalom event for the men for the 2017-18 season.

The World Cup continues on November 11-12 in Levi, Finland with the men’s and women’s slalom.

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MORE: Mikaela Shiffrin bumped off podium in Soelden; Lindsey Vonn struggles

Marcel Hirscher’s historically dominant win just about ends Ted Ligety’s title hopes (video)

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Ted Ligety‘s bid to win a third straight World Cup giant slalom season title is all but over after Austrian rival Marcel Hirscher won in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, on Sunday.

Hirscher prevailed by a massive 3.28 seconds over two runs, the largest margin of victory in a men’s World Cup race in more than 35 years, according to ski-db.com.

“I risked everything,” Hirscher said, “but I won everything.”

German Felix Neureuther was second. Ligety was fourth and tipped his cap.

“Impressive piece of skiing,” he told media in Germany.

Ligety dropped to 188 points behind Hirscher in the World Cup giant slalom standings with two races left. A victory nets 100 points. The top 30 skiers earn points on a descending scale, giving Ligety almost no chance of overtaking Hirscher.

Hirscher notched his 30th World Cup victory and increased his overall standings lead. The 25-year-old is in line to win a fourth straight World Cup overall title, something no man has ever done.

Ligety captured the season’s biggest giant slalom, the World Championship in Beaver Creek, Colo., on Feb. 13. But Hirscher has won five of six World Cup giant slalom races this season.

“It was not the greatest year,” Ligety said, “but we salvaged it with the World Championships. That’s at least one bright spot.”

Hirscher also denied Ligety’s bid for a third straight World Cup giant slalom title in 2012. On Sunday, he moved into solo third among Austrian men in all-time World Cup wins. Hermann Maier won 54 races, and Benjamin Raich is at 36.

One must wonder if Ligety can reclaim the World Cup giant slalom title from Hirscher next season. Yes, Ligety is skiing with four screws in his left hand from a November training injury.

But he’s also five years older than Hirscher. Ligety’s only victories this season came on U.S. snow. The World Cup circuit is primarily run in Europe.

And though Ligety hasn’t lost an Olympics or Worlds giant slalom since 2010, he barely kept his World Cup giant slalom title in 2014, by .01 of a second and a points tiebreaker at the World Cup Finals last March.

The men’s Alpine skiing World Cup continues with a downhill and super-G in Kvitfjell, Norway, next Saturday and Sunday.