Marcel Hirscher regains slalom title at world championships
ST. MORITZ, Switzerland (AP) — Leaving no doubt over who was the standout skier at the world championships, Marcel Hirscher regained his slalom title on Sunday.
The Austrian star also took gold in St. Moritz in giant slalom and silver in combined — and that loss was by just 0.01 seconds.
Ending with his best event, Hirscher held his first-run lead to finish 0.68 faster than Austrian teammate Manuel Feller, who had been only seventh fastest in the morning.
“It was super easy for me mentally to (go) into this race,” said Hirscher. “Now I think the perfect championships are over.”
The 27-year-old Hirscher celebrated by raising both arms in the air, and skidded to a sudden stop deep in the finish area before falling to the snow.
Felix Neureuther earned Germany’s first medal of the 11-event championships, taking bronze 0.93 behind his long-time rival. Neureuther also won bronze two years ago when Hirscher wasted a first-run lead.
Hirscher, who beat Neureuther for slalom gold in 2013, now has four career world titles in individual events, and seven medals in total. Still, an Olympic gold medal has eluded him.
Arriving at the two-week championships, Hirscher was the five-time defending World Cup overall champion with a clear lead in the current standings over Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway and France’s Alexis Pinturault.
Hirscher clearly outperformed both his main rivals in the sun-soaked Swiss Alps.
World Cup slalom champion Kristoffersen was 0.11 behind Neureuther, giving Norway an unwanted streak of placing skiers fourth in all five men’s events.
Kristoffersen also placed fourth in Hirscher’s giant slalom victory on Friday, and he was fourth in slalom at the 2015 worlds in Vail-Beaver Creek, Colorado.
“That’s life, it happens,” Kristoffersen said. “You can’t change the past.”
By failing to complete the first run, French star Pinturault leaves without winning a medal in his four individual events. Pinturault helped France win gold in the team event, but has only one individual bronze medal from his four trips to world championships.
Britain and Russia both threatened to end their records of never winning a men’s medal since the Alpine ski world championships started in 1931.
Dave Ryding and Alexander Khoroshilov were well placed after the first run Sunday, near the front of a line of 20 skiers standing within one second of a medal. They finished 11th and fifth, respectively.
“This is my best result of my career,” Khoroshilov said. “I was a little bit nervous. After the first really tight run it’s really difficult to stay calm.”
In 2003, Ivica Kostelic won slalom gold when the worlds were last held in St. Moritz, but the 37-year-old Croat had to qualify for Sunday’s race.
Wearing bib No. 54, Kostelic finished 38th and trailed Hirscher by almost eight seconds. Both plan to be in the 2018 Olympic slalom lineup in South Korea.