Overall champions Shiffrin, Hirscher win at World Cup finals
ARE, Sweden (AP) — Overall champions Mikaela Shiffrin and Marcel Hirscher dominated the penultimate World Cup races of the season on Saturday.
Both racers had already locked up their overall and discipline titles in recent weeks before adding convincing wins at the World Cup finals.
Shiffrin won her seventh slalom of the season, a personal best for the American. Holding on to a commanding first-run lead, Shiffrin won by a massive 1.58 seconds over Wendy Holdener of Switzerland. Olympic slalom champion Frida Hansdotter of Sweden was another 0.01 behind in third.
“It was so much fun. This is how I want to feel every race. In the second run, it’s my dream of skiing like that,” said Shiffrin after her 32nd victory in the discipline and 43rd overall.
She secured her fifth slalom season title and second straight overall championship last week.
“The whole season was really, really great for me,” said Shiffrin, who added gold in GS and silver in the combined event at the Pyeongchang Olympics last month. “But always at the end of the season, I want to be strong and I can feel really proud of that.”
Shiffrin posted the fastest times in both runs on Saturday, and won the second run by an even larger margin than the first.
“I was super focused on the race and what I wanted to do with my skiing,” Shiffrin said, adding that she got additional motivation from Hirscher’s performance in the men’s race.
“For sure, he is a huge inspiration for me,” Shiffrin said. “How he has been skiing, even in the first run with that big mistake. He is incredible.”
Hirscher nearly skied out after catching a bump halfway down his opening run but overcame the mishap to win the season-ending men’s giant slalom for his 58th career victory. The Austrian became only the third skier to win 13 races in a single World Cup season, after Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark in 1978-79 and Austria’s Hermann Maier in 2000-01.
“This is definitely something so unreal,” said Hirscher, who can set a new best mark in Sunday’s slalom.
The Olympic GS champion had already locked up the season title in the discipline and his seventh straight overall championship two weeks ago.
Hirscher fractured his ankle in a training run on his first day on snow in August and missed the entire pre-season preparation. In early December, however, he won the first GS of the season.
“We were not thinking that I could win races so early in the season and now it is my best season way out,” he said. “Unbelievable, thank you for that.”
Hirscher beat Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway by 0.23 seconds, while Victor Muffat-Jeandet of France was another 0.03 back in third. It was the 11th time that Kristoffersen finished a race in second place this season, a World Cup record.
The Norwegian posted the fastest second-run time but it was not enough to fully close the gap to Hirscher.
“Today it was a close decision,” Hirscher said. “I am super happy that I managed to pull it off once again.”
The World Cup season ends with the women’s GS and the men’s slalom on Sunday.