Hirscher leads two place Austrian sweep, Ligety fourth
Marcel Hirscher couldn't tell when he finished a nasty race at Adelboden Saturday (Jan. 7), if he had won or not. He had, in a race where the top four skiers finished with .14 of a second, topping the remarkable comeback showing of Benjamin Raich. Italian Massimiliano Blardone posted third and Ted Ligety fourth, clinging to his lead of the GS standings over Hirscher by 15points.
The course at Adelboden provided even more than its usual challenges in 2012. Course workers had been shipped in from Wengen to help with preparation, but a storm anticipated overnight arrived early, and wetter, than expected. The light went flat and sleet coated the goggles making visibility difficult and the rolls of the Chuenisbaergli slope treacherous. The first run took out half the field and the second added three more.
"The top was good snow, the middle was kind of winter snow that held up for the most part," said US coach Sasha Rearick. "From the slalom down it was all injected, down that steep pitch, and at the bottom you had a kind of Spring snow. You had to be pretty adaptable."
Hirscher called the race "the toughest giant slalom on my career," and said being solid down the last pitch was what won the race for him.
As the weather turned to rain to sleet to snow and back again, the second run started with Beat Feuz nearly running into a course worker applying dye to the course. He got a rerun. Among the most incredible racing of the day came from Frenchman Alexis Pinturault. Just 17th after the first run he turned a series of linked recoveries into a lead that held through nine skiers. But as good as his run was, Raich still recorded the fastest second leg, a sign he has now fully recovered from his first major injury, sustained near the end of last season at the World Championships.
Raich - sixth after the first run - was as smooth as he was fast, compact with no wasted movement. It was boring to watch for any but a technician. The next challenger, Cyprien Richard, put up a much more exciting run as the rain started to turn to snow, but could not touch Raich's time. Blardone, fueled by his GS win at Alta Badia before Christmas skied beautifully missing the lead by .02.
Ligety, next to last to start the second heat skied cleanly top to bottom but his first run margin slowly disintegrated and he dipped behind both Raich and Blardone with Hirscher still in the start house.
Hirscher has been on fire all season. He lost ground to Raich, but not all of it to collect his fourth win and sixth podium of the season. "I caught a few turns not so good," Hirscher told Austrian reporters. "I felt rather bad. My heart slipped." After he had been told he had in fact won, he felt much better.
"Honestly, at the moment everything is working very, very well. I have great joy in skiing," Hirscher said.
Raich said he knew he would get back into form, but admitted he was a bit surprised how quickly he had recovered from knee surgery. "I've always believed," he said. "That it has gone so fast is all the more beautiful."
Hirscher had hurt his hand in the first run when his pole caught on a gate and was ripped away, none the less he extended his lead of the World Cup overall standings to 185pts over Aksel Lund Svindal who was a second run DNF.
US coach Sasha Rearick said Ligety had "shook by a bump" that had him heading the wrong direction. Without that mishap, the coach said, "He skied well enough to win."
Adelboden podium photo by Gepa
by Hank McKee
Men's World Cup Giant Slalom, Adelboden, Switzerland, Jan. 7, 2012
1 Hirscher, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
2 Raich, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
3 Blardone, Dynastar/Lange/Look
4 Ligety, Head/Head/Head
5 Richard, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
6 Baumann, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
7 Pinturault, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
8 Fanara, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
9 Missillier, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
10 Kostelic, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
Men's World Cup Giant Slalom, Adelboden, Switzerland, Jan. 7, 2012. ... It is the 15th race of the men's 45 race 2012 World Cup schedule with one cancellation. ... It is the fifth of nine scheduled GS's for the men with no more on the slate until Feb. 18 at Bansko, Bulgaria. ... It is the 50th Cup race hosted by Adelboden and 41st GS, all of them men's races. ... The site has hosted men's World Cup GS races since the inception of the circuit. ... Last season's race was a tie between Cyprien Richard and Aksel Lund Svindal.
It is the seventh career World Cup win for Marcel Hirscher. ... his fourth in GS. ... It is his fourth win of the season together with two additional podium placings. ... He has not completed a Cup race this season in worse than sixth place. ... He owns all of the Austrian men's victories this season. ... It is his third straight podium at Adelboden going back to both of last season's races.
It is the 88th career World Cup podium result for Benjamin Raich. ... His 33rd in GS. ... It is his first podium (and second top 10) this season. ... It is his ninth career podium at Adelboden.
It is the 22nd career World Cup podium for Massimiliano Blardone. ... all in GS. ... It is his second podium of the season, the other the win at Alta Badia. ... It is his fifth podium at Adelboden, going back to 2005.
It is the 39th time Ted Ligety has finished in the top four of a World Cup race. ... the fifth time this season. ... It is his second best result at Adelboden but best in GS. ... Tim Jitloff matches his sixth best career Cup result. ... It is his third score of the season, all in GS.
Hirscher strengthens his lead of the World Cup overall standings to 625-456 over Aksel Lund Svindal (DNF 2nd). ... Ligety holds third with 453pts. ... Bode Miller (DNF 1st) is sixth with 343pts. ... Erik Guay (did not race) is top Canadian in 27th with 140pts. ... Ligety holds the lead of the GS standings 380-365 for Hirscher. ... Alexis Pinturault (seventh in race) is third with 195pts. ... Jean-Philippe Roy (DNF 1st) is top Canadian in 21st with 46pts. ... Austria leads the men's Nations Cup standings 2446-1483 over Switzerland. ... France is third with 1307pts. ... The US is fifth with 1035 and Canada ninth with 470pts.
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||FIS Points|
|14||55||192504||MERMILLOD BLONDIN Thomas||1984||FRA||1:24.85||1:20.59||2:45.44||15.74|
|18||21||191746||DE TESSIERES Gauthier||1981||FRA||1:24.50||1:21.13||2:45.63||16.76|
|Disqualified 1st run|
|Did not qualify 1st run|
|26||421669||HAUGEN Leif Kristian||1987||NOR|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|6||421328||SVINDAL Aksel Lund||1982||NOR|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|65||30149||SIMARI BIRKNER Cristian Javier||1980||ARG|
|53||990116||DE ALIPRANDINI Luca||1990||ITA|
|47||421946||KRISTIANSEN Emil Bjoertomt||1990||NOR|
|40||420148||KARLSEN Truls Ove||1975||NOR|