Austria’s Schoerghofer wins World Cup giant slalom
Aspen, CO Colorado
HINTERSTODER, Austria – Philipp Schoerghofer captured his first career victory by winning Sunday’s World Cup giant slalom, the final men’s race before the world championships.
Schoerghofer finished in an aggregate time of 2 minutes, 46.44 seconds to give Austria its second win in as many days, after Hannes Reichelt winning Saturday’s super G.
Kjetil Jansrud of Norway, who led after the opening run, finished 0.17 behind. Defending overall champion Carlo Janka of Switzerland was another 0.03 back in third.
“I am so glad that it finally happened. I always knew I could do it,” said the 28-year-old Schoerghofer, whose only previous podium finish was third place at a GS last season in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.
“It was really difficult and I am very proud that I made it here. This course is brutal, it is demanding with a very steep first part. It was hard to find my rhythm but I was just fast. That’s most important thing.”
Bode Miller posted fast intermediate times but squandered a possible podium finish by making errors on the final section in both runs. Even so, the American clocked the best second-run time to finish ninth, 0.57 behind Schoerghofer.
Teammate Ted Ligety, who has won three GS races this season and leads the discipline standings, trailed by 0.90 in 13th place. U.S. teammate Warner Nickerson finished 26th.
Ligety was among the fastest starters in the opening run but lost speed in the middle section. In his final run, he avoided obvious mistakes but did not look comfortable throughout.
Ligety has 323 points in the GS standings to lead Svindal by 26 points.
Schoerghofer had trailed Jansrud by 0.35 after the opening leg and was anxious before starting his final run.
“I was very nervous up there,” Schoerghofer said. “In most races, something goes wrong for me because of some minor details. Maybe it’s a coincidence that everything comes together just days before the world championships.”
World Cup leader Ivica Kostelic finished 10th to take another step toward his first overall title. The Croat has 1,249 points, followed by Didier Cuche of Switzerland on 725 and Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway on 713.
Marcel Hirscher of Austria hurt his left ankle in a crash in the first run and was taken to a hospital for examination. Team doctor Harald Baumschlager said Hirscher had likely strained ligaments.
The Austrian team has been struck by a string of injuries because of crashes, with Hans Grugger, Mario Scheiber and Georg Streitberger all ruled out of the Feb. 8-20 worlds Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
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There might be part of Hailey Swirbul that is finally beginning to believe she belongs. The 22-year-old cross-country skier is coming off quite a stretch with the U.S. ski team, one that includes her first career World Cup podium and a successful go in the notorious Tour de Ski stage race.