While American Mikaela Shiffrin seems unbeatable in the Women’s FIS Alpine World Cup, her fellow Atomic Skiing teammate, Austria’s Marcel Hirscher, is actually unbeatable in any technical event. At least, that's been the case for the last eight technical events.
Despite appearing to finish in second place during the Beaver Creek Birds of Prey giant slalom, the winner, Germany’s Stefan Luitz, will likely soon be formally disqualified for using supplemental oxygen between runs, meaning Hirscher actually won.
Two weeks later, during the GS and parallel slalom events in Alta Badia, Italy, Hirscher didn’t just win, he established complete dominance by leaving the other racers behind by a ski racing mile.
In Sunday's GS, Hirscher set the tone during his first run. With bib number seven, the Austrian attacked the slope with higher-than-usual intensity, finishing in the lead with a 0.94 second advantage over Matts Olsson of Sweden in second place.
In the second run, Hirscher went all-out again, as he said, "definitely on the limit." He shaved almost a full three seconds off his first run time, and established an insurmountable 2.53 seconds over the rest of the field. In World Cup ski racing, this much of a lead is extraordinary, proving that Hirscher is at the top of his game, and well above everyone else.
Two Frenchmen rounded out the GS podium. Thomas Fanara and Alexis Pinturault finished second and third, respectively. American Tommy Ford, of Bend, Ore., had his best-ever World Cup result with a fifth-place finish, 2.79 seconds behind Hirscher and only 0.10 seconds off the podium.
“During the first run, I built from the top to the bottom and really had more power," Ford said in an interview with the U.S. Ski Team. "And the second run I brought more power from the top all of the way through, through the middle section and down even rolling with the mistakes; and kept driving. It’s a two-run race and second run I knew I had more in the tank and I just allowed it to come out."
Other notable American results in the Alta Badia GS included Ryan Cochran-Siegle (Starkboro, Vt.) in 16th, 3.81 seconds behind the winner; River Radamous (Edwards, Colo.) who finished 25th and earned his first-ever FIS World Cup points; and Brian McLaughlin (Waitsfield, Vt.), who finished with points as well in 27th. Ted Ligety (Park City, Utah) and Hig Roberts (Steamboat Springs, Colo.) did not finish their first runs. See full Alta Badia GS results.
Wild Airs, Close Finishes in Alta Badia Parallel Giant Slalom
On Monday night in Alta Badia, the first FIS World Cup parallel giant slalom of the season for men took place under the lights. The fast and furious event saw a spectacular amount of discombobulated airs and recoveries off of a jump in the middle of the run, and the head-to-head format provided edge-of-the-seat excitement throughout.
In the Big Final, Hirscher faced off against France’s Thibaut Favrot. Despite an absolutely wild air in which Hirscher accidentally did a lop-sided spread eagle and landed on his inside ski’s uphill edge, he pulled off a miraculous recovery to beat Favrot at the line. It is Hirscher’s first ever gold in the parallel giant slalom, and Favrot’s silver was his first ever FIS World Cup Podium. France’s Alexis Pinturault won the small final over Olsson to take third.
The night was not without drama for the Americans. Ford faced off in the round of 16 with a sizable time advantage over his parallel competitor, Max Franz of Austria. In theory, Ford should have almost been to the first gate by the time Franz’s start gate opened, but due to a mechanical error, both racers started at the same time, and Franz edged out Ford at the bottom.
The US Ski Team appealed to the race jury, who awarded the win to Ford due to the error. Ford would lose his next race in the round of eight against Olsson, and end up ranked 16th overall. Cochran-Siegle, who did not make it out of the round of 16, finished with a rank of 17th. See all of the Alta Badia Parallel Slalom results.
FIS World Cup skiing continues on December 18 with the women racing downhill in Val d’Isère, France. The men’s tour will resume on December 28 with the downhill in Bormio, Italy.