Hirscher dominates to win World Cup giant slalom; Ligety 7th
ADELBODEN, Switzerland — Overall World Cup leader Marcel Hirscher of Austria swept to victory in a giant slalom on Saturday, denying Alexis Pinturault an emotional win for France.
Hirscher extended his morning lead to finish in a combined two-run time of 2 minutes, 39.11 seconds, beating Pinturault by 1.13.
Pinturault was among several French racers who wore "Je Suis Charlie" messages on their helmets, showing support for their home country after a traumatic week of terrorist incidents.
After crossing the finish line as provisional leader, Pinturault pointed to the slogan. Standing on the podium in the post-race ceremony, he held up a "Je Skie Charlie" message.
"For me it was important to show my solidarity," the 23-year-old Olympic bronze medalist said. "It’s a little bit complicated to understand everything, but this could happen in Switzerland one day. You never know when this attack will happen."
Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway finished third, trailing 1.64 behind Hirscher.
Olympic and world champion Ted Ligety of the United States placed seventh, 1.86 back.
Hirscher got his fifth career win at Adelboden, where first-run leads are difficult to defend in fading light. His task was made tougher by a rutted, softening snow surface on a day of 10 C (50 F) temperatures.
"I think I have done a pretty good job today," said Hirscher, describing the steep final slope as "the toughest five GS gates in the World Cup calendar."
Hirscher’s fourth win in five races this season earned 100 points to extend his lead in the discipline standings to 138 over five-time champion Ligety. Three GS races are scheduled in March.
In the overall points race, Hirscher’s sixth win this season lifted him 152 points ahead of Norwegian Kjetil Jansrud, who failed to finish. Jansrud skied out midway down the second run and swiped in frustration at a safety fence with his right ski pole.
On a testing week for the French and American teams, they combined to place seven men in the top 20 Saturday.
U.S. team prospects Ronnie Berlack and Bryce Astle were killed Monday in an avalanche at the team’s European training base in Soelden, Austria.
"There definitely is (a different mood) by our entire team right now but not in a bad way," said Tim Jitloff, who was 2.47 back in 14th.
"We celebrate the guys that lost their lives but we also know that those guys would want it that we continue doing what we’re doing here and not hold back," Jitloff told The Associated Press. "Because they loved doing this stuff and so do we, and that’s how we’re going to do this."
The classic Adelboden GS –watched by a noisy 29,000 crowd Saturday — is the last in Ligety’s specialist event before defending his world championships title Feb. 13 on home snow at Beaver Creek, Colorado.
Still, Hirscher shapes as the gold medal favorite after three straight wins since Ligety won the World Cup GS at Beaver Creek last month.
Hirscher will be the favorite Sunday in the Adelboden slalom, which he has won for the past three years.