Hirscher surprise super-G winner
BEAVER CREEK — Weather giveth and it taketh away.
With snow shortening the Birds of Prey racecourse and conditions making visibility better for the bookends of the top-30 of the start order, Austrian Marcel Hirscher, the four-time defending World Cup champion and renowned technical specialist, won his first World Cup super-G on Saturday at Beaver Creek.
Hirscher, running fourth, finished with a time of 1 minute, 6.90 seconds, and that time held up as more snow pounded favorites like Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal and Kjetil Jansrud and Austria’s Hannes Reichelt, the defending Birds of Prey super-G champion.
American Ted Ligety, racing 29th, left the start gate as the sunlight was breaking through the clouds to take second, 0.33 seconds off Hirscher’s pace. That matches Ligety’s best super-G World Cup performance in his career. He took silver at the Val d’Isere, France, super-G on Dec. 12, 2009. (As always, FIS Alpine World Ski Championships do not officially count toward those totals, ergo his gold medal in the dicipline in Schladming, Austria in 2013, though treasured does not apply.)
Andrew Weibrecht, of Lake Placid, New York, flew to third in 1:07.26. The “War Horse” finally earned the first World Cup podium of his career after earning a bronze medal in the 2010 Olympics and silver in the 2014 games in super-G. (Like World Championships, the Olympics do not count toward a racer’s official World Cup statistics.)
For Hirscher, this is a tremendous boon for his bid to win a fifth consecutive overall World Cup title. The giant-slalom and slalom specialist’s only podium, a third-place finish, in the super-G came on March 15, 2012, on home snow in Schladming. Hirscher had only 60 points and was in 16th place in the overall points so far this season in what has been a speed-heavy start to the World Cup campaign. The 100 points he earned on Saturday are gravy in his quest for a fifth overall globe.
Ironically, weather deprived Hirscher in his last appearance here at Beaver Creek. During the World Championships in February, Hirscher was all but on his way to a gold medal in the slalom, his forte, when he temporarily lost his ability to see, because of snow that day, and skied off course on Harrier just before the finish.
France’s Adrien Theaux and Italy’s Mattia Casse tied four fourth in Saturday’s super-G. American Travis Ganong ended up sixth.
This story will be updated.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.