Hirscher leads tight GS pack after one run
BEAVER CREEK — Friday’s FIS Alpine World Ski Championship men’s giant slalom was billed as a duel between Austria’s Marcel Hirscher and American Ted Ligety, but others have crashed the party in what should be a photo finish this afternoon,
Hirscher, the three time overall World Cup champion, has the lead with a first-run time of 1 minute, 15.18 seconds. Italy’s Roberto Nani, with nary a World Cup podium in his career, is the surprise entrant in this derby in second, just 0.18 seconds off the pace.
Germany’s Felix Neureuther, usually Hirscher’s nemesis in slalom, and France’s Alexis Pinturault are in a dead heat at 1:15.41, 0.23 seconds off the lead. And then there’s Ligety 1-hundredth off those two and 0.24 seconds behind Hirscher.
Friday was also notable for those who did not make it down. Benni Raich, making his final Worlds appearance, went first and went out on a hard left footer on Screech Owl. Raich is one of only two elite racers who have competed in both the 1999 and 2015 Worlds here, the other being American Bode Miller. Raich would not be the only one. France’s Mathieu Faivre and Norway’s Leif Kristian Haugen, who skied at Denver University, also fell victim to that turn.
France’s Thomas Fanara went out on Redtail, another surprise DNF.
While the top-five racers remain the obvious contenders for the second run at 2:15 p.m., six other athletes were within 1 second of the lead after the first run — Sweden’s Matts Olsson, American Tim Jitloff, Austrian Philipp Schoerghofer, Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen, France’s Victor Muffat-Jeandet and Finland’s Marcus Sandell.
For those looking for an omen, in December’s Birds of Prey GS, the order after one run was Raich, Pinturault (1-hundredth back), Hirscher (24-hundredths) and Ligety (25-hundredths). Ligety came back to win that race by 18-hundredths. Past performance does not guarantee future results.