Hirscher wins it all and writes history
The 56th edition of the Pokal Vitranc kicked off today with the traditional Audi FIS Ski World Cup Giant Slalom on the Podkoren 3. On this last regular race before the Finals in Aspen, Marcel Hirscher was unbeatable and took everything that was on the table for him: he secured both the Overall and the Giant Slalom globe and claimed the GS win.
Before heading to Kranjska Gora, only two athletes had a shot at the Giant Slalom globe: Marcel Hirscher was leading 96 points ahead of Alexis Pinturault. The Frenchman, who already had a bad serie at the World Championships, struggled to find the rhythm and skied out in the first run.
The path was cleared for Marcel Hirscher, but the Austrian didn’t gamble and earned a sizable margin of almost a second (+0.96) in the first run, over Henrik Kristoffersen (2nd +0.96) and Justin Murisier (3rd +1.10). But in the second run, the cards were redistributed and the behind Hirscher, two Scandinavians managed to land on the podium.
In third place, Matts Olsson scores his second career podium in giant slalom, only a few weeks after his second place in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Since he came back from a severe knee injury last season, Olsson is fired up and keeps beat his own personal records, what allows him to claim the 8th place of the current giant slalom standings.
"The end result is great for me but it was a really tough race with the weather, with the snow, with everything pretty much but in the end it was great. It was raining quite a lot in the second run. With rain and poor visibility, the snow and the bumps, everything together gets real difficult. You know that the second run will not be a good feeling and you just have to fight."
Leif Kristian Haugen has been on the World Cup Tour for eight years already, but this season something triggered and he impressed with very strong performances in his favourite discipline, but also in slalom and in the parallel events, where he claimed two 4th places, his best results before today. At the World Championship, the Norwegian was able to prove his great shape also in Giant Slalom, by claiming the bronze medal. So it was the logical continuation for him to earn his first World Cup podium with this second place in Kranjska Gora.
"I feel obviously great. It's a career-best result and it was a rough race; I didn't get the worst light, but I didn't get the best either. I knew I had to fight hard and just not really think too much about the conditions. I think right now I'm skiing really well and I know that when I push hard, I ski my best. We've had these conditions before in the summer in Norway on the glaciers where you can't see more than a couple of meters ahead of you and it's raining so I think it's bringing back some of the stuff I've done when I was little."
The two Scandinavians were honoured to share the podium with the athlete who just became the most successful skier of all time: Marcel Hirscher. The Austrian did not only manage to hold on to the lead in the second run to take his 44th World Cup win, but he also secured the Giant Slalom globe (196 points ahead of next contender Alexis Pinturault with one race to go) and the Overall globe (504 poitns ahead of next contender Kjetil Jansrud with 5 races to go). It’s the first time in the history of alpine skiing, that an athletes claims the Overall six times in a row.
"If I'm telling the truth, maybe it is a little too much for me right now. It's very emotional and I'm trying right now to do a very professional job but I'm really, really thankful. I would like to just have three hours to myself after the ceremony to just think about what brought me to this point. It's just amazing to have six consecutive overall World Cup titles. It is a record where I have to say 'thank you' to many, many people, especially to my girlfriend, Laura, to my family, and the team around me. They were amazing."
Tomorrow, a slalom will be held in Kranjska Gora, with the first run starting at 09.30 CET and the second one at 12.30 CET.