Hirscher wins again, takes GS in Adelboden

07 January 2012 14:00

ADELBODEN, Switzerland—Austria's Marcel Hirscher finished the fastest in both giant slalom runs today to take home back-to-back wins this week—Thursday, "Snow King" of Zagreb, today, king of the "Classic" Adelboden.  
In front of 29,000 fans, Hirscher's teammate, Benjamin Raich, skied from six back after the first run to take second place—his first podium of the season—only missing the top by .08 seconds. Massimiliano Blardone was .10 behind to take 3rd.

GS world champion Ted Ligety, who was trailing Hirscher by .07 after the first run, was on track to jump into first place during his fast, aggressive second run. Until, that is, he made a mistake at the steep bottom section, having to throw his skis sideways, and subsequently landed in 4th place (just .14 behind Hirscher).

It was certainly no walk in the park for the 22-year-old Hirscher, nor any of the racers. After 60-plus cm of snow fell on Thursday night, the course crew had been working fervidly to prep the course for this morning's 10:30 a.m. start. At race time, the weather was cloudy yet calm, but as the race waned on, the weather turned. The course went from variable conditions (sheer ice, bumpy, and "bally," according to Ligety) to soft and rutted due to the fresh snow. Flat light was hampering the competitors' vision. 

Due to the inclement weather, however, there was no shortage of action. Hirscher lost his pole when his right hand hit the third to last gate on his first run. Nearly half the field in the first run didn't finish, along with U.S.'s Bode Miller. Then came the second run—snow continued to make the visibility even worse. Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal crashed, Czech's Ondrej Bank skied out, and Austria's Hannes Reichelt went down, too. 

On top of that, Switzerland's Beat Feuz, almost collided with an unsuspecting course worker. Feuz got to have a "do over" but 10 racers later (in worsening visibility and course conditions); he ended not far from where he started, in 26th place.

It was a battle to the finish, with a shuffle of leaders until Hirscher took his final run. This particular win was an honor, he said, as he was able to stand beside his idol. "I've learned a lot from Benni," he said. "Benni was always my biggest idol. I'm really proud to beat him today, he's a good guy."

And this was a especially sweet podium for Raich, who has struggled since tearing his anterior cruciate ligament during the Nations Team event at the Alpine World Skiing Championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, on Feb. 16, 2011.

"I love this hill," Raich said. "I'm so happy today. Of course it was not easy to come back. The races up till now have been difficult for me, but now I am where I want to be so I am happy."

So far Hirscher is leading the overall World Cup standings with 625 points, 169 better than Norway's Aksel Lund Svindel who is sitting in second. Some wonder if a technical specialist could win the overall Crystal Globe. Patrick Lang dissects it in this article

Will Hirscher three-peat with a slalom win tomorrow? He isn't sure. "I will try my best and see what happens," he said.

We will see, the men's slalom begins at 10:30 a.m. local time. 

By Vanessa Pierce

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