Austrian Hirscher leads after first GS run; Ted DNF | VailDaily.com

Austrian Hirscher leads after first GS run; Ted DNF

Austria's Marcel Hirscher races to a first-run lead during the Birds of Prey giant slalom on Sunday at Beaver Creek.
AP | FR37383 AP

BEAVER CREEK — Austrian Marcel Hirscher has the lead after the first run of the Birds of Prey giant slalom on Sunday morning, while American Ted Ligety was a shocking DNF at Beaver Creek.

Hirscher, the four-time defending World Cup champion, lead Germany’s Stefan Luitz by 0.15 seconds, with a first-run time of 1 minute, 16.93 second. Sweden’s Andre Myhrer is in third place, 0.34 seconds off the pace.

Norway. France’s Victor Muffat-Jeandet and Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen are tied for fourth 0.52 seconds out, going into the second run at 12:45 p.m.

Taking nothing away from the current leaders — Hirscher is, after all, the defending World Cup GS champion — Ligety’s DNF made waves.

The American was the defending Birds of Prey champion in the discipline and had won six of his last seven starts here, including the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships giant slalom back in February.

Not since Dec. 2, 2007 had he been off the podium in a Birds of Prey GS — he finished fourth. His only previous DNF in GS was his first World Cup start on the racecourse on Dec. 3, 2005.

A DNF anywhere for the preeminent GS racer of this era is rare anywhere. The last time he didn’t complete two GS runs on tour was in Adelboden, Switzerland, on Jan. 11, 2014.

Ligety looked good on the top of the course and was in the lead through the first two intervals, before finding trouble on the face of Harrier. He appeared to catch an edge and slid out of the course toward the skier’s right direction, causing a gasp from the crowd, which understandably expects him to win this race on an annual basis.

The American wasn’t the only one with issues on Sunday morning. Of the-top-ranked racers, France’s Thomas Fanara, fifth in the GS rankings last year, skied out. His teammate Alexis Pinturault, second last season, crashed and hit his head on the hard ice of the course. He was taken to the Vail Valley Medical Center as a precautionary measure.

This story will be updated.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, cfreud@vaildaily.com and @cfreud.