France’s Grange wins in stunner
BEAVER CREEK — So what’s more improbable? France’s Jean-Baptiste Grange winning his first race since the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in 2011 or Austria’s Marcel Hirscher holding a 0.88-second lead as the last racer out of the start house, and ending up a DNF?
Both long probabilities became reality in Sunday’s men’s slalom finale as Grange got the final gold medal of the Championships on Sunday at Beaver Creek, beating out Germans Fritz Dopfer and Felix Neureuther in a snowstorm in Beaver Creek.
Grange was fifth after the first run and a bit of an afterthought. Ironically, he tore his ACL in a Birds of Prey giant slalom in 2009 here, missing the Olympics of 2010 before coming back to win slalom gold in Garmisch, Germany, in 2011. The Frenchman skied impeccably in the snow, which clearly impaired the vision of many racers, who were actually wiping their goggles mid-run.
Dopfer ended up hopping from sixth after the first run to silver for the first individual medal of his Championships career. He finished 0.35 seconds behind Grange. Neureuther, who has been dueling with Hirscher all season for the World Cup slalom lead, seemed out of the medals after the first run, trailing by 1.09 seconds.
But getting in a good run under the conditions did the trick. Neureuther finished 2-hundredths of a second in front of Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen for the bronze medal.
Hirscher was dropping time at intervals as he came down during his final run. Regardless of winning, he seemed to be in the medals until he straddled a gate on top of Redtail, the final steep of the course. That was only his second DNF in the last three years in a slalom race.
Ted Ligety was the top American in 21st.
This story will be updated.
Rita’s two closest peers have climbed the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) peak 21 times each, but both of them have retired from mountain climbing.