Marcel Hirscher wins GS race, Crystal Globe at World Cup Finals
Austrian lays down perfect second run to overcome Felix Neureuther
Marcel Hirscher demonstrated the heart of a champion Saturday in the men’s giant slalom in the World Cup Finals in Aspen.
Hirscher didn’t win either run but managed to turn in the lowest overall time at 1 minute, 49.79 seconds. Felix Neureuther of Germany was 0.53 seconds back after leading by 0.01 after the first run.
The victory was the third in a row for Hirscher and capped another incredible season for the 28-year-old Austrian. He won the Crystal Globe in men’s giant slalom for the third consecutive season and also took the slalom title. In addition, he grabbed the big prize, nabbing his record sixth consecutive overall title.
He had the titles wrapped up before arriving in Aspen, but he said after Saturday’s race he had no trouble staying motivated.
“I’m a natural racer. I want to compete” Hirscher said. “It isn’t hard for me to motivate myself. If you are a racer then you are a racer. I’m not here for making vacation. It is awesome here but the best vacation is to win races.”
Hirscher had a commanding margin of victory for the giant slalom title over Mathieu Faivre of France, who finished third in Saturday’s race.
U.S. Ski Team member and five-time giant slalom champion Ted Ligety was injured early this season and wasn’t able to challenge Hirscher. However, Hirscher said winning the title wasn’t easy.
“There are so many other athletes who try to kick my ass and that is way enough for me,” he said.
For example, Alexis Pinturault of France defeated Hirscher three times in giant slalom this season, but he wasn’t as consistent. Pinturault didn’t finish several races, including Saturday when he missed a gate.
Hirscher had to overcome rapidly rising temperatures as well as competitors on Saturday. The temperature soared into the 60s during the second run, which started at 11:30 a.m.
Hirscher started fifth in the first run and glided over an icy course to grab the lead. It was short-lived. Two racers later, Neureuther finished 0.01 ahead.
In the second run, the snow turned grippy and slowed the racers down by three to four seconds. Hirscher beat all the top competitors although Florian Eisath of Italy turned in the best second-run time.
Hirscher labeled the snow conditions “perfect” and the course work “brilliant,” considering the temperatures.
“They’ve done everything that is possible to make it as fair as possible,” he said.
Tommy Ford was the only American competitor. He finished 18th in the race, 2.61 seconds back.
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