ALTA BADIA,ITALY,20.DEC.15 - ALPINE SKIING - FIS World Cup, giant slalom, men. Image shows Marcel Hirscher (AUT). Photo: GEPA pictures/ Wolfgang Grebien

For Austrian Marcel Hirscher, winning giant slaloms has become something of a habit this season. Trailing first run leader Victor Muffat-Jeandet of France by a slim 0.05 seconds after the first run and hearing the crowd erupt as Nowegian young gun Henrik Kristoffersen took over the lead by a commanding margin, Hirscher knew he had to up his game if he was to take his third GS of the season and 17th of his career.

Attacking the dark and infamous Gran Risa with renewed vigor, Hirscher matched Kristoffersen turn for turn, crossing the finish with 0.19 seconds to spare and only Muffat-Jeandet left in the starting gate.

The Frenchman couldn’t hang on, however, and slid to third place at 0.86 seconds behind, giving Hirscher the win with Kristoffersen in second. American Ted Ligety was forced to settle for fourth place, 1.35 seconds off the winning pace.

According to Hirscher, things might have turned out differently if it weren’t for a last minute bit of information from his staff.

“That was a pretty lucky moment that my physio told me at the start before the second run that Henrik had an incredibly good run, so I exactly knew that now is the time to try your total 100 percent,” Hirscher explained. “I think I’ve done it pretty good, so I’m super happy with the first place.”

The snow in Alta Badia was uncharacteristically soft in comparison to the vertical ice rink of previous years, with the later starters in both runs having to contest with the course deterioration in the flat light of the shaded trail.

“The snow was softer than what we are used to skiing on at Alta Badia. The last couple of years that I have raced here it was always super, super slick and icy and today it was perfect grippy,” Hirscher said. “That is for sure not easy for my kind of skiing and technique. In general, I felt OK, but that is not what I’m looking for in Alta Badia. But in the end, I won, so no questions anymore. It doesn’t matter. I am super happy.”

For Kristoffersen, this result marks the first time in the 30 year history of World Cup racing at Alta Badia that a Norwegian has made it to the podium.

“I’m really proud. It was a close battle with Marcel. I’m getting closer and closer, but still he has a little edge on me,” Kristoffersen said in the finish. “Today I am really satisfied. I skied really good, especially the middle part in the second run was really good skiing. I pushed really hard. I’ve done something that no other Norwegian has done before and there have been many amazing skiers from Norway skiing here, so I’m pretty proud of myself for that.”

After hearing that Hirscher said the Norwegian forced him to ski at another level, Kristoffersen expressed deep admiration for one of the best technical talents the sport has ever seen.

“I hope I pushed him to his limit, for sure. That’s what I’m aiming for and one day, hopefully beat him. Hopefully this season, we’ll see,” he said. “It’s so hard to beat him, he’s such an unbelievable athlete. For me, he’s the best skier I’ve ever skied against for sure, without a doubt both in GS and in slalom. He’s one of the biggest all time in the sport. It’s pretty amazing to compete with him and getting closer and closer is a pretty good feeling.”

It was a day of firsts for Muffat-Jeandet who not only wore bib one for the first time in his World Cup career, but also held the lead after first run en route to his third straight podium appearance in GS.

“I’ve always been consistent in my career, so it’s good because it’s on a better level. I’m really happy with the first run, it was not so easy to start first, it was my first time in World Cup,” the Frenchman explained. “It was also a new thing for me to start last in the second run to close the gate. It’s OK, I think you have to learn it. I was in a good mind, but maybe I was a little bit too aggressive. Today it was not so icy. It’s a little bit aggressive snow and sometimes I was doing some mistakes but I’m happy because I could lose much worse. Third place is OK. Marcel was really fast and Henrik too. I need still a little bit of work to go good in two runs and then it will be OK.”

For Ligety, a fourth-place finish is definitely not what he expects from himself, and everyone knows he is more than capable of challenging for wins on every GS track – that is, when he’s healthy. After tweaking his back during training at Copper Mountain, Colo., last month, Ligety was forced to take nearly three weeks off from training and has suffered the consequences with a DNF and a DNQ as his last two World Cup GS results prior to today.

“I have three herniated disks. And then trying to ski, I tore my hip muscle and have a torn labrum in my hip,” Ligety explained in the finish.”I have a plethora of things going on. At this point, I’ve had some injections on everything and it feels better now. It’s just a month of not doing anything, I’m definitely smaller and weaker than I was two months ago.”

American Tim Jitloff was finally able to find the kind of result he has been looking for this season, finishing in a season-best seventh place, 1.86 seconds behind Hirscher. The normally stoic Jitloff let out a loud yell as he crossed the finish in the second run with the lead, which he held until Ligety unseated him.

“I definitely feel a lot better after not a bad first run. I think I skied well, I just went a little too direct with my line,” he said. “I also knew going into the second run today that I really needed to throw down a great second run because my season performance to this point has just been OK and not up to my capabilities. I was very nervous for sure, but I think that nervousness helped push me.”

For Tommy Ford also of the U.S. Ski Team, a clean course running first on the second run turned into a blistering time. He ultimately won the run by 0.80 seconds and leapt 18 places to finish 12th – his best World Cup result since 2011. Ford is currently the first alternate for tomorrow’s parallel GS.

“I finally let it go second run and skied really well, moved forward the whole way and skied clean. It felt good to just let it go,” he said.

Looking forward to tomorrow’s first ever World Cup parallel GS, U.S. men’s head coach Sasha Rearick says to be ready for an entertaining show as the World Cup tests out a new discipline.

“The PGS is going to be interesting. A new format, a lot of it is going to be in the starts, so we are going to do some start training tomorrow,” Rearick said. “It should be a fun event, under the lights. People are excited about it, it’s the holiday season here in the Dolomites.”

The Austrian Ski Team also updated the status of Matthias Mayer, who suffered a bad crash in yesterday’s downhill in Val Gardena. According to an official statement, Mayer’s injuries were more severe than initially reported, with Mayer fracturing the T6 vertebra in addition to the first reported T7 fracture. Also, the T7 fracture was found to be unstable, forcing surgery to fuse the T5-T8 vertebrae, thus ending Mayer’s season.

“It went well for Matthias considering the circumstances. He must now stay (in hospital) for at least 10 days before he can be released into home care,” said Dr. Michael Gabl, who carried out the operation in conjunction with Dr. Klaus Galiano.

Tomorrow’s PGS gets underway at 6:00 p.m. CET.

View more photos from this race here.

Fans can stay current on the World Cup circuit by downloading the new U.S. Ski Team iOS app powered by Ski Racing here.

The Scoop
By Hank McKee

  1. Hirscher, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
  2. Kristoffersen, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
  3. Muffat-Jeandet, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
  4. Ligety, Head/Head/Head
  5. Faivre, Head/Head/Head
  6. Pinturault, Head/Head/Head
  7. Jitloff, Stockli/Lange
  8. Neureuther, Nordica/Nordica/Marker
  9. Schoerghofer, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
  10. Luitz, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
  • Men’s World Cup giant slalom, Alta Badia, Italy, Dec. 20, 2015. … It is the 30th edition of the Ski World Cup races on the Gran Risa slope in La Villa. … It is the 11th of 45 races on the men’s World Cup schedule … the fourth of ten scheduled GSs, plus a parallel GS set for Alta Badia Dec. 21. … Marcel Hirscher has won the last two previous to the race.
  • It is the 35th career World Cup win for Marcel Hirscher putting him third all-time among Austrian men one behind Benjamin Raich with Hermann Maier out in front with 54 wins. … It is his 17th career World Cup GS win making him the all-time Austrian leader. … He is fourth among men all-time behind Ingemar Stenmark, Ted Ligety, and Michael Von Gruenigen. … It is his fourth win at Alta Badia, third in GS at the site. … It is his fourth win of the season and he has been on the podium in all six races he has completed.
  • It is the 14th career World Cup podium for Henrik Kristoffersen … his fifth in GS. … It is his third podium of the season in four completed races. It is the first time he has finished second in a World Cup GS.
  • It is the fourth career World Cup podium for Victor Muffat-Jeandet … the third in GS. … His previous best at Alta Badia had been 11th last season.
  • It is the 16th time Ted Ligety has finished fourth in a World Cup race. … It matches his seventh best Alta Badia finish. … It is the third best career result for Tim Jitloff and his second best at Alta Badia where he finished fifth in the 2013 GS. … It is his best result of three recorded this season. … Tommy Ford matches his second best career finish and best GS result from Bansko Dec. 18, 2012. … It is the fifth career World Cup scoring finish for Trevor Philp … his second at Alta Badia.
  • Hirscher leads the World Cup overall standings 540-520 over Aksel Lund Svindal (28th in race). … Kjetil Jansrud (DNQ 2nd) is third with 307pts. … Ligety is seventh with 241pts and Travis Ganong (did not race) tenth with 204pts.
  • Hirscher leads the GS standings 360-226 over Muffat-Jeandet. … Neureuther is third with 197pts. … Ligety is fifth with 150pts.
  • Austria leads the men’s Nations Cup 1720-1330 over Norway. … France is third with 1187pts. … The U.S. is fifth at 928pts and Canada eighth at 230pts.

Official Results

Rank Bib FIS Code Name Year Nation Run 1 Run 2 Total Time Diff. FIS Points
 1  5  53831 HIRSCHER Marcel 1989 AUT  1:16.95  1:16.39  2:33.34  0.00
 2  7  422304 KRISTOFFERSEN Henrik 1994 NOR  1:17.13  1:16.40  2:33.53  +0.19  1.21
 3  1  193967 MUFFAT-JEANDET Victor 1989 FRA  1:16.90  1:17.30  2:34.20  +0.86  5.50
 4  4  534562 LIGETY Ted 1984 USA  1:18.34  1:16.35  2:34.69  +1.35  8.63
 5  14  194495 FAIVRE Mathieu 1992 FRA  1:18.03  1:16.74  2:34.77  +1.43  9.14
 6  6  194364 PINTURAULT Alexis 1991 FRA  1:18.03  1:16.75  2:34.78  +1.44  9.20
 7  9  534959 JITLOFF Tim 1985 USA  1:18.66  1:16.54  2:35.20  +1.86  11.89
 8  3  201702 NEUREUTHER Felix 1984 GER  1:17.55  1:17.68  2:35.23  +1.89  12.08
 9  8  51007 SCHOERGHOFER Philipp 1983 AUT  1:17.77  1:17.53  2:35.30  +1.96  12.53
 10  19  202437 LUITZ Stefan 1992 GER  1:18.12  1:17.29  2:35.41  +2.07  13.23
 11  11  294890 NANI Roberto 1988 ITA  1:18.87  1:16.64  2:35.51  +2.17  13.87
 12  31  531799 FORD Tommy 1989 USA  1:19.97  1:15.55  2:35.52  +2.18  13.93
 13  10  292967 EISATH Florian 1984 ITA  1:18.30  1:17.29  2:35.59  +2.25  14.38
 14  24  511896 MURISIER Justin 1992 SUI  1:18.37  1:17.45  2:35.82  +2.48  15.85
 15  27  292491 MOELGG Manfred 1982 ITA  1:18.81  1:17.05  2:35.86  +2.52  16.11
 16  15  180534 SANDELL Marcus 1987 FIN  1:18.76  1:17.23  2:35.99  +2.65  16.94
 17  13  202462 DOPFER Fritz 1987 GER  1:18.47  1:17.55  2:36.02  +2.68  17.13
 18  2  191750 FANARA Thomas 1981 FRA  1:18.40  1:17.63  2:36.03  +2.69  17.19
 19  46  202345 SCHWAIGER Dominik 1991 GER  1:19.15  1:16.91  2:36.06  +2.72  17.38
 20  43  561244 KRANJEC Zan 1992 SLO  1:19.59  1:16.50  2:36.09  +2.75  17.58
 21  18  511852 CAVIEZEL Gino 1992 SUI  1:19.58  1:16.61  2:36.19  +2.85  18.21
 22  56  292000 BLARDONE Massimiliano 1979 ITA  1:19.02  1:17.22  2:36.24  +2.90  18.53
 23  12  421669 HAUGEN Leif Kristian 1987 NOR  1:18.34  1:18.02  2:36.36  +3.02  19.30
 24  29  291318 TONETTI Riccardo 1989 ITA  1:19.90  1:16.69  2:36.59  +3.25  20.77
 25  25  51159 NOESIG Christoph 1985 AUT  1:18.54  1:18.13  2:36.67  +3.33  21.28
 26  36  191423 RICHARD Cyprien 1979 FRA  1:19.81  1:16.90  2:36.71  +3.37  21.54
 27  34  422278 WINDINGSTAD Rasmus 1993 NOR  1:18.58  1:18.20  2:36.78  +3.44  21.99
 28  17  421328 SVINDAL Aksel Lund 1982 NOR  1:19.42  1:18.16  2:37.58  +4.24  27.10
 29  44  103865 PHILP Trevor 1992 CAN  1:19.78  1:18.04  2:37.82  +4.48  28.63
 30  26  54063 FELLER Manuel 1992 AUT  1:19.09  1:19.15  2:38.24  +4.90  31.32
Disqualified 1st run
 32  512182 MEILLARD Loic 1996 SUI
Did not start 1st run
 64  103612 PRIDY Morgan 1990 CAN
 22  54031 LEITINGER Roland 1991 AUT
Did not qualify for 2nd run
 69  800013 TOLA Erjon 1986 ALB
 68  680047 BENIAIDZE Alex 1991 GEO
 67  430617 CHRAPEK Adam 1993 POL
 65  151024 KOTZMANN Adam 1993 CZE
 63  380341 ULLRICH Max 1994 CRO
 62  180705 PIRINEN Eemeli 1993 FIN
 61  561217 KOSI Klemen 1991 SLO
 60  6291430 MAURBERGER Simon 1995 ITA
 59  700879 ZAMPA Andreas 1993 SVK
 57  6291028 SORIO Daniele 1994 ITA
 55  6290440 ZINGERLE Alex 1992 ITA
 54  511988 GENOUD Amaury 1993 SUI
 53  290095 BALLERIN Andrea 1989 ITA
 52  303097 ISHII Tomoya 1989 JPN
 51  54027 BRENNSTEINER Stefan 1991 AUT
 49  6190074 GATEAU Elie 1995 FRA
 48  54320 SCHWARZ Marco 1995 AUT
 47  501898 ROENNGREN Mattias 1993 SWE
 45  53889 HIRSCHBUEHL Christian 1990 AUT
 42  150644 KRYZL Krystof 1986 CZE
 41  422073 NETELAND Bjoernar 1991 NOR
 40  511638 TUMLER Thomas 1989 SUI
 37  481103 ANDRIENKO Aleksander 1990 RUS
 35  180666 TORSTI Samu 1991 FIN
 33  700830 ZAMPA Adam 1990 SVK
 30  511718 PLEISCH Manuel 1990 SUI
 23  990116 DE ALIPRANDINI Luca 1990 ITA
 20  501017 MYHRER Andre 1983 SWE
 16  421483 JANSRUD Kjetil 1985 NOR
Did not finish 1st run
 66  30149 SIMARI BIRKNER Cristian Javier 1980 ARG
 58  501903 CASSMAN Anthon 1993 SWE
 50  534508 CHODOUNSKY David 1984 USA
 39  422139 KILDE Aleksander Aamodt 1992 NOR
 38  511741 ZURBRIGGEN Elia 1990 SUI
 28  192506 MISSILLIER Steve 1984 FRA
 21  380335 ZUBCIC Filip 1993 CRO