Skiing

Hirscher wins WC slalom, takes lead in overall standings

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The Canadian Press
1/12/2014 11:26:03 AM
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ADELBODEN, Switzerland -- Marcel Hirscher mastered a classic Swiss slope yet again Sunday, winning a World Cup slalom to seize the lead in the overall and discipline standings.

Hirscher, the Austrian two-time defending overall champion, sliced through the gates on a thrilling run down the steep final slope to beat Andre Myhrer of Sweden by 0.29 seconds.

"It's maybe a stupid decision," Hirscher said about his risk-taking. "If you give a lot, you can win a lot."

Teenager Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway was third, trailing 0.66 behind Hirscher's combined two-run time of 1 minute, 49.75 seconds.

Hirscher won this race for the past two years en route to taking the giant crystal globe as the world's best Alpine skier.

"It's very wonderful here," Hirscher said of the historic venue which has featured since the World Cup started in 1967. "It's kind of a special race and it's working pretty well for me."

Felix Neureuther of Germany lost his unbeaten record in 2014 by straddling a gate when poised to challenge Hirscher's time.

With 100 race points for victory, Hirscher now leads Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway by 23 points in the overall standings. Svindal is a speed specialist who skips slalom races.

Ted Ligety of the United States retained a distant third place overall despite skiing out in the second run.

Calgary's Brad Spence continued his comeback from injury with a 20th place finish.

Hirscher also took the discipline standings lead from teammate Mario Matt who failed to finish the second run. He leads by 60 points from Mattias Hargin of Sweden, who placed fourth Sunday after being fastest in the morning.

With his fourth win this season, the 24-year-old Hirscher has 22 career World Cup victories including 12 in slalom.

Kristoffersen, a 19-year-old junior world champion in two events, got his second career podium finish one day after almost colliding with a television production worker who strayed on the course during Saturday's giant slalom won by Neureuther.

"I skied over the back of his skis. I was definitely touching him a little bit there. (It) happens. We're only humans," Kristoffersen said.

Spence, who underwent knee surgery in the spring of 2012, started from 45th place and finished with a two-run combined time of 1:52.76.

"My goal was a top-20 (finish)," he said. "I knew I could qualify with bib 45. It was just a matter of doing things right. I've been training really well but on race day things weren't coming together.

"To have that first run and qualify and then an OK second run, it's a good day."

Canadian alpine skiiers typically need two top-12 World Cup results to make the Olympic team, but with Spence's injury status last season, a top-20 may be enough to earn him a spot.

Bode Miller placed outside the top-30 in the morning Sunday so did not qualify for a second run.

The American veteran, who won this race in 2002, lost his race line and speed at the top of the final pitch.

David Chodounsky of the U.S. was eighth, 1.70 behind Hirscher, to follow his 10th place here one year ago.

The host Switzerland team offered little for an enthusiastic crowd of 12,000 spectators on a sunny day with temperatures rising above 43 F (6 C). Only Markus Vogel advanced to the second run and placed 17th.

"The crowd is one of the most fair on the World Cup tour," said Hirscher, whose next race is next Sunday in slalom at nearby Wengen.

The three-race Wengen meeting includes the Lauberhorn downhill Saturday that is the traditional highlight of the Swiss sporting year.

Marcel Hirscher (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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