Hirscher in line to defend world slalom title after 1st run
BEAVER CREEK, Colorado (AP) — Defending champion Marcel Hirscher of Austria took a slight lead in the opening run of the slalom Sunday to put himself in position for a fourth medal at the Beaver Creek world championships.
Hirscher was nearly flawless on the icy course and finished in 1 minute, 3.38 seconds. Alexander Khoroshilov of Russia was second, 0.28 seconds back, heading into the afternoon run. Andre Myhrer of Sweden was third.
There are six racers within 1.09 seconds of Hirscher’s time, including Germany’s Felix Neureuther, who leads the World Cup slalom standings this season.
The 25-year-old Hirscher is trying to close out the championships by giving Austria its 10th medal. Hirscher already has gold in the Alpine combined and team event. He also earned a silver in the giant slalom.
Hirscher is looking to become the first man to win back-to-back world slalom titles since Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark (1978, ’80 and ’82).
American Ted Ligety wound up 1.93 seconds. The top 30 will go in reverse order in the afternoon run.
“It’s basically like a hockey rink out there right now,” said Ligety, who captured gold in the giant slalom and bronze in the Alpine combined. “That was definitely a tough feeling, especially with a turny course. It’s not the nice hero, feel-good snow we’re used to.”
Austria’s Mario Matt, the Olympic gold medalist in the slalom at the Sochi Games, struggled on the course and didn’t finish. He bruised his right ankle in a recent training crash, but said he had a “good feeling” heading into the race.
“I put a lot of focus on this,” said the 35-year-old Matt, who doesn’t think he will still be racing when the 2017 worlds roll around. “I trained really good. What can I say?”
The final event of the championships featured 100 competitors from all over the globe, including racers representing places such as Israel and Republic of San Marino. One of the last racers to go was Hubertus Von Hohenlohe, the 56-year-old German prince who skis for Mexico.
He finished 33.01 seconds behind Hirscher’s time. But he did qualify for a second run.
“I cannot catch Hirscher,” laughed Von Hohenlohe, who plans to compete at the 2017 worlds. “It was fun. Well, fun it was not. Just hard. If a fight can be fun, then it was fun.”