First season's victory for Hirscher
VAL D’ISERE, France – The excitement continues in Val d’Isere s the best Giant Slalom skiers in the world make their way down the steep Face de Bellevarde slope.
Marcel Hirscher held on to his lead from the first run and with a time of 1 minute, 54.10 seconds won his first race of the season. Alexis Pinturault who was second after the first run, only 0.05 seconds behind was having an outstanding run until a few gates before the finish line he caught an edge and flew off the line. He eventually finished the race in 28th position.
The surprise of the day was Stefan Luitz, the 1992 born German skied an outstanding second run and moved from 25th into second position. Today’s favorite and the winner of both Giant Slaloms disputed this season, Ted Ligety rounded up the podium after finishing seventh in the first run.
“It’s awesome but it was so hard,” a breathless Hirscher said after crossing the finish line. “It was so tough! I was told before leaving the start that Pinturault skied out and was not sure what to do,” he explained what was going on just seconds before he left the start gate.
“It’s hard to know how much to break …but I decided I had to give it all I had to make sure I win – luckily it paid off. It’s my first victory this season and Val d’Isere has always been special for me. This hill requires some real skiing from us. I am not a big fan of flat GS races and its great to win on such a difficult slope. In a way this victory lifted some weight off my shoulders and it has been a great weekend altogether.”
Stefan Luitz could hardly believe what was going on in the second run. The young German knew he was skiing well but was far from expecting a podium finish, especially after finishing 25th in the first run.
“I have no idea what I did in the second run,” an astonished German said after realizing today was going to be his first podium.
Luitz was coming to Beaver Creek from a great race in Beaver Creek, where he finished 13th, his best result before today’s podium.
“I think only when there were about ten guys left on start I realized what I have done today and that my second run could be good enough for a podium finish. I felt good coming down the slope, and I am sure the perfect slope conditions and sun all along helped – but it all feels a bit unreal!”
Ligety was for sue the big favorite f today’s race but the American made one too many mistakes in the first run and failed to make it a hat trick in Giant Slalom.
“I am still happy with my third place today,” Ligety said. “It has been a fight on this slope – we came from Beaver where the distances between gates were 31 meters to this very steep slope where you need to make your turns in 21 meters.”
“I prefer to call this a Super Slalom then a Giant Slalom, it’s not easy to ski here and as I have mostly been training on wider distances I knew I might not do as well as I did in the first races, so a third is still something to be happy about.”
As the men move out of Val d’ Isere to continue with the speed season in Val Gardena, the French resort is getting ready to welcome the ladies Tour which will be moving in for some speed races next weekend.
With just about a third of the season behind us, there is plenty of excitement to look forward to so stay tuned for next week’s speed races!
by Ana Jelusic