Throughout the second half of the men’s giant slalom race in Beaver Creek, Colo., Switzerland’s Thomas Tumler sat in the leader’s chair for much longer than most expected. Earlier that day, the 29-year-old posted the 21st fastest run of the morning, clocking a time of 1:16.67. Going into the day’s second run, Tumler was positioned 2.10 seconds slower than Germany’s Stefan Luitz, who posted the day's fastest single descent during his first run at 1:15.57.
As clouds rolled in during the afternoon to create tricky snow temperatures throughout the course, Tumler’s second run time of 1:19.22 put him into the top spot after nine racers. With twenty racers left, he watched eighteen skiers, including American Ted Ligety, Mikaela Shiffrin’s French boyfriend Mathieu Faivre, and the third fastest skier from the morning’s first run, Henrik Kristofferson of Norway, fail to beat his two-run combined time. With only two racers left, Tumler was guaranteed a spot on his first FIS World Cup Podium.
Austrian Marcel Hirscher, who posted the second fastest first-run time, took to the course after Kristofferson and was finally able to find a way to take the lead from Tumler. Despite a 1.95 second advantage after the first run, Hirscher looked a little off his game and made a few mistakes throughout his descent. The Austrian’s two-run combined time of 2:36.52 was only 0.37 seconds faster than Tumler’s.
Following Hirscher, Luitz was also not perfect during his second time down the course, but he held on to finished faster overall than both Hirscher and Tumler with a combined time of 2:39.28. The race at Beaver Creek is Luitz’s seventh individual FIS World Cup podium and his first gold medal. Both Luitz and Tumler had very large smiles as they stepped on the podium. Their faces were juxtaposed by the stoic Hirscher, who looked a little less than pleased about his second-place finish.
As the men’s GS race in Sölden was cancelled earlier this season due to weather, Luitz is now leading in the GS points race going into Val d’Isère next weekend.
The American team had a very strong showing at the Beaver Creek Birds of Prey GS with four team members qualifying to ski in the second run. Ted Ligety (Park City, Utah) finished tied for eighth overall with Italy’s Riccardo Tonetti. They were 1.10 seconds off of Luitz’s winning time. Tommy Ford (Bend, Ore.) finished 15 overall, 1.69 seconds off the lead; Brian McLaughlin (Waitsfield, Vt.) finished in 18, 2.00 behind the winner; and Ryan Cochran-Siegle (Starksboro, Vt.) finished 22, 2.21 seconds behind Luitz.
On December 8-9, 2018, the men’s FIS Alpine World Cup tour jumps to Val d’Isère, France for the technical races of GS and slalom. The speed events will return on December 14, 2018, in Alta Badia, Italy.