Hirscher claims Olympic double with giant slalom win
Pyeongchang (South Korea), Feb 18 (AFP) Austrian Marcel Hirscher claimed his second Olympic gold of the Pyeongchang Games today, showing all his class to comprehensively win the men's giant slalom.
Hirscher, who finally won an individual gold in the alpine combined on Tuesday after dominating the World Cup for the last six years, clocked an aggregate of 2min 18.04sec down the Rainbow 1 course at the Yongpyong Alpine Centre.
Norwegian Henrik Kristoffersen claimed silver, 1.27sec adrift of Hirscher, with France's Alexis Pinturault following up on his combined silver with bronze, a further four-hundredths back.
The 28-year-old Hirscher, a six-time consecutive World Cup overall champion, showed none of the nerves that afflicted American Mikaela Shiffrin in her failed attempt to defend her slalom title after winning the giant slalom the previous day.
He laid down a near-faultless first run on a course that saw many other racers come unstuck on a tricky, twisting run-in to the finish line.
That left him a very healthy 0.63sec ahead of closest rival Pinturault, Kristoffersen paying the price for a mistake to finish 10th, 1.31sec off the pace.
When the Norwegian took to the slope for the second run, he raced down in the fastest time in an impressive display of aggressive skiing, 0.04sec faster than Hirschers leg.
But Kristoffersen's late heroics were not quite enough for a second alpine Norwegian gold of the Olympics as his Austrian nemesis powered from the start gate to deliver yet another masterclass under pressure.
Defending Olympic champion Ted Ligety, however, had a shocker. After failing to finish the super-G here, the 33-year-old American laboured down the course in his bid to become the events oldest Olympic medallist, eventually coming in a massive 3.21sec behind Hirscher.
"Today was a definitely a tough day at the office," said Ligety, who stormed to a shock first Olympic gold in the combined in Turin in 2006, before he had even won on the World Cup circuit.
That first World Cup victory came three weeks after Turin, when he won a giant slalom at Yongpyong. He hasn't raced there since.
"In the first run, I didnt ski with anywhere near the intensity, cleanliness and attack I needed to," he said.
"The second run I tried to step it up but I just didnt have the speed in me today. It's an unfortunate day to have a bad day.
"Ski racing is a really tough sport to predict and truly plan for because you have such a small opportunity of window to show what you've got