Marcel Hirscher defended his Giant Slalom Globe with yet another impressive victory. The Olympic Giant Slalom Champion came into the final regular season World Cup Giant Slalom knowing that if he finished ahead of his only rival for the Globe, Henrik Kristoffersen, then the 105 point difference would be enough. In winning the race from Kristoffersen, Hirscher extended the lead and will go to Are knowing that he will be taking at least one Globe home with him. Alexis Pinturault managed to hold on to third place with Leif Kristian Nestvold-Haugen taking fourth ahead of Zan Kranjec.
Kranjska Gora is renown for its spring like snow as the World Cup makes its regular stop off at the Slovenian resort. Having already hosted the women for a technical double header in January after the Maribor races were cancelled, the organisation is slick and well groomed. There was no evidence of the spring like snow and, as American Tommy Ford explained, “it is nice to see snow on the trees!”
The Austrian set for the first run produced a fair number of casualties including five of the top fifteen starters, Mathieu Faivre and Matts Olsson included plus Ted Ligety. With Hirscher using his early start number, bib one, to great effect in posting an almost perfect run to end up almost three quarters of a second ahead of his nearest rival, Kristoffersen, the rest were playing for the minor places on the podium. The high number of DNF’s on the first run saw nine racers from outside the top thirty seeds make it into the second run, Stefan Hadalin from bib 55 impressing the most.
It was Adam Zampa who set the early pace on the second run and he ended up posting the second fastest second run time to power his way up to 15th overall. The American’s got in on the act of placing athletes in the leaders seat as first Ryan Cochrane Siegel and then Tommy Ford took control of the race.
With the lead changing hands rapidly, Rasmus Windingstad, Manuel Feller, Leif Kristian Nestvold-Haugen and Alexis Pinturault all made a case for the win. Pinturault, tied for third after the first run admitted that the Olympics, the travel and the racing had made him tired but apart from a mistake on the first run was just about content with the result.
Kristoffersen extended his advantage over Pinturault with a strong run but admitted that he had nothing over Hirscher who he explained ‘is on a different planet to the rest of us this season.’
Hirscher put down the sort of run that had the crowd and the rest of the racers applauding. Kristoffersen added that he will have to go away in the summer and train harder if he is to reach the same level that the Austrian is reaching this season. Hirscher crossed the line 1.66 seconds ahead of the rest of the field.