ADELBODEN, Switzerland - Felix Neureuther overcame a big first-run deficit to win a World Cup giant slalom on Saturday for his second straight victory in 2014 as the Sochi Olympics approaches.
The German was only seventh fastest in the morning, but benefited from fading sunshine in the afternoon to finish 0.10 seconds ahead of first-run leader Thomas Fanara of France. Marcel Hirscher of Austria was third, 0.19 behind Neureuther's combined time of 2 minutes, 34.60 seconds.
World champion Ted Ligety of the United States, who was sitting third, skied out when poised to take the lead after being rocked by a rutted bump midway down.
Neureuther's victory was just the second for Germany in men's giant slalom in 47 years of World Cup racing, and reduced team director Wolfgang Maier to tears in the finish area.
"It's just unbelievable," said Neureuther, who matched Max Rieger's win in March 1973 at Mont Saint-Anne, Canada. "It makes me very proud."
The victory was even more surprising in an era of GS domination by Ligety, Hirscher and Alexis Pinturault of France, who placed fourth Saturday. That trio shared the last 14 World Cup victories dating to February 2012.
"To tell the truth, I never thought in my career I would win a GS," said the 29-year-old Neureuther, whose seventh World Cup success followed his slalom triumph on Monday in Bormio, Italy.
Ligety, who won this race last year, had little chance to recover after being launched toward a gate as he prepared to make a turn.
"It is definitely a kick in the groin," said Ligety, who dropped to third behind Hirscher in his defence of the World Cup discipline title.
Hirscher earned 60 race points and now leads Pinturault by 75 in the GS standings. Four-time winner Ligety trails by 120 with three races remaining.
"It's very positive for me about the standings," said Hirscher, adding that Ligety's bad luck was "a shocking moment."
Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway placed 12th and retained his lead in the overall World Cup standings, 77 points ahead of two-time defending champion Hirscher.
A typically large and raucous crowd of 29,500 lining the Kuonisbaergli course had only one Swiss racer to cheer in the second run. Carlo Janka, the Olympic champion in giant slalom, finished 20th, 2.24 behind Neureuther.
Bode Miller of the U.S. skied out midway down the first run when he lost balance in the softening snow with temperatures at 6 C (43 F).
The Adelboden meeting, which featured in the very first week of World Cup racing, concludes Sunday with a slalom. Neureuther and Hirscher will be the favourites.