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The men’s FIS World Cup continued this past weekend in Adelboden, Switzerland, with GS and slalom races. A freshly shaven Tommy Ford (Bend, Ore.), who has cracked the top ten twice this season in the GS, did so again on Saturday with a sixth-place finish. Meanwhile, Marcel Hirscher of Austria started his second runs in both races behind Norway’s Henrik Kristofferson, yet finished both races on top of the podium. In the process, Hirscher made history by becoming the first skier to have nine FIS Alpine World Cup career wins at a single venue.
Under clear skies and in front of a massive crowd, the top men took to the difficult Chuenisbärgli slope fairly conservatively in the GS, with the key exceptions being Kristofferson and Ford.
Wearing bib number one, the Norwegian’s run looked solid throughout, with attacks and fluidity that wouldn’t register until other skiers started to struggle after him. None of the other 74 racers would best Kristofferson’s first run time.
Ford, wearing bib 15, appeared to have summoned his inner Hirscher on his first run, attacking each turn with aggressive vigor. He would head into the second run in fifth place, and with a fighting chance to make it onto the podium.
More on Ford: Tommy Ford Sixth in Val d’Isère Giant Slalom
The Austrian Marco Schwarz, who won the Oslo City Event on January 1, started with bib number 67 but crossed the finish line 14th with a phenomenal first run. He jumped to the lead with what would be the second fastest second run of the day.
Schwartz was unseated from the leader’s chair by Slovenian Zan Kranjec, who won his first ever GS in Saalbach earlier this season. Kranjec would be forced to give up the seat after an especially solid second run from Frenchman Thomas Fanara, who, at the age of 37, would go on to break his own record of being the oldest racer to make a FIS World Cup podium with a third-place finish.
Ford again skied especially hard during his second run, but made a few mistakes throughout, including a minor hip-check mid-course. His two-run combined time was 0.17 seconds behind Kranjec’s, but with France’s Alexis Pinturault, Hirscher, and Kristofferson still to drop in on their second runs, it didn’t look likely that Ford would stay in the top three.
Pinturault, who has had improving second run results this season, would not best his fellow countryman Fanara, but did split the difference between Fanara and Kranjec. Then it was time for the Marcel Hirscher show. Where others seemed to struggle on the Chuenisbärgli, Hirscher accelerated, finishing with a dominant 1.04 second advantage over Fanara.
Kristofferson, the final racer of the day, made a mistake on the steep final pitch of the course that gave so many other racers trouble, and in the end he could not best Hirscher’s time, finishing second.
“It was a good fight…kind of a rattly second run,” Ford said when the race was over, according to U.S. Ski and Snowboard. “My legs – I could feel them there – you probably saw my head bobbing a couple of times. The weather was all over the place, but all in all, I’m keeping it consistent…the speed is there.”
American Ted Ligety (Park City) has been dealing with some lingering back issues this season and finished 16th in the Adelboden GS. “It’s the same area on my back…I don’t have radiating sciatica down my leg or anything,” he said after the race to U.S. Ski and Snowboard. “I just popped a disc out pretty good – so I’m just dealing with that. It feels OK…definitely on the vulnerable side,” Ligety said.
None of the other American men who started, including Ryan Cochran-Siegle (Starksboro, Vt.), Nick Krause (Northboro, Mass.), Brian McLaughlin (Topsfield, Mass) and River Radamus (Edwards, Colo.), qualified for the second run in Adelboden. See all of the men’s GS results.
Hirscher Sweeps Adelboden with Historic Slalom Win
On Sunday, January 13, Hirscher likely knew that he could make history with a slalom win in Adelboden. With his GS win the day before, he had a total of eight wins at this venue, the same number he has at Alta Badia and coincidentally, the same number of wins that Ingemar Stenmark had at Madonna di Campiglio and Aksel Lund Svindal has in Lake Louise.
But Hirscher would have to put up a fight for the win in the Adelbdoden slalom: Snowstorms and poor visibility made for difficult racing conditions, and a number of younger skiers who have been pushing Hirscher this year were also gunning for a win. Kristofferson (24 years old), Clement Noel of France (21), and Schwarz (23) finished in the top five spots after the first run, along with Hirscher and Pinturault.
The rankings shuffled during the second run, with Noel again putting down the second fastest second run of the day, moving up three places. Hirscher would best this time by 0.30 seconds, however, giving him a 0.50 total advantage over the young Frenchman. Kristofferson wobbled more than once on the steep second half of the slalom course in the same areas that gave him trouble during the GS, and would finish 0.71 seconds slower than Hirscher. His time put him in third place with one racer left.
That racer, Schwarz, appeared to be on pace to make the podium until the final steep pitch, where he missed blocking a gate with his pole, taking the full brunt of the impact with his face. He was thrown off balance and stopped, giving the race to Hirscher. See the full men’s slalom results from Adelboden.
Read more from the FIS Alpine World Cup: Hirscher Sweeps Alta Badia Races
With this win, Hirscher becomes the first FIS World Cup racer to have nine wins at a single venue, and continues to dominate the GS, slalom, and overall FIS World Cup points leaderboard.