Hirscher dominates to win Alta Badia GS 6th straight year


Austria's Marcel Hirscher speeds down the course during a men's World Cup Giant Slalom, in Alta Badia, Italy, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018. (Photo: AP)

Marcel Hirscher dominated to extend his record by winning the Alta Badia giant slalom for a sixth straight year Sunday and reclaimed the overall World Cup lead.

Adding to his first-run advantage, Hirscher finished a massive 2.53 seconds ahead of Thomas Fanara of France, who moved up from 14th after the opening leg.

Alexis Pinturault, another Frenchman, finished third, 2.69 behind.

With a big advantage over Fanara, Hirscher could have skied the second run conservatively but instead attacked all the way down and increased his advantage at nearly every interval, making only a slight error near the end.

“It sounds strange but it did not feel so powerful,” Hirscher said. “I thought it would turn out OK but that it would be close.”

At the finish, Hirscher pumped his fists and let out two loud screams of joy.

Hirscher already became the first man to win five successive GS races at a single ski resort with his victory in Badia last year. The only other man to win six GS races at one resort is Ted Ligety, who accomplished it over seven years at Kranjska Gora, Slovenia.

Overall, Hirscher has seven race wins in Alta Badia, including a slalom victory from 2011.

It was one of the most dominating performances on the Gran Risa course since Ligety won the first run over Hirscher by a massive 2.40 seconds in 2012 — going on to win the race by 2.04.

Hirscher has also won seven of the last eight World Cup GS races stretching back to last season — not to mention his gold medal in the event at the Pyeongchang Olympics in February. Hirscher will have won all eight if Stefan Luitz is stripped of a victory in Beaver, Creek, Colorado, for using an oxygen mask between runs.

The International Ski Federation has notified the German Ski Association that it intends to strip Luitz of the win from earlier this month and now the German team has two weeks to respond.

Hirscher’s Austrian teammate Manuel Feller finished fourth and Tommy Ford of the United States was fifth in a career-best result.

Matts Olsson of Sweden dropped from second after the opening leg to finish sixth.

Marco Odermatt, the two-time junior world champion in GS who stood third after the first run with the No. 27 bib, made a series of errors in his second trip down before eventually crashing out.

Italian skier Luca De Aliprandini posted the fastest second run and moved up 21 spots to finish seventh; Luitz finished 20th; and Ligety failed to finish his first run.

Seeking a record-extending eighth straight overall title, Hirscher moved 40 points ahead of teammate Max Franz in the standings.

A parallel GS night race is scheduled for the Gran Risa on Monday.