Hirscher wins World Cup slalom, takes overall lead
ZAGREB, Croatia – Defending champion Marcel Hirscher reclaimed the overall World Cup lead Sunday by winning a slalom for his third victory of the season.
The Austrian trailed Jens Byggmark by 0.01 seconds after the first leg but took advantage of the Swede’s mistake in the second to win in a combined time of 1 minute, 56.17 seconds.
Andre Myhrer of Sweden was 0.57 back in second, and Hirscher’s Austrian teammate Mario Matt came in 1.09 behind to take third.
“This result makes me really happy,” Hirscher said. “I saw Andre’s run from the start – it was brutal, so I knew I had to push from top to bottom to have a chance. I managed to do just that.”
Byggmark nearly skied out in the final part of his second run and finished 26th, 3.46 seconds off Hirscher’s winning time.
Hirscher overtook Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway, who usually skips slalom events, atop the overall standings. Hirscher has 740 points, followed by Svindal with 689 and American Ted Ligety, who skied out in the first run Sunday, with 552 points.
The race took part in rainy and partly foggy conditions, while mild temperatures further softened the course. Despite the poor weather, 17,000 cheering fans were lining up on the slope and in the finish area.
The Austrian’s season is showing a remarkable resemblance to last year’s. He also won the 2012 Zagreb race for his third victory of the season to take the overall lead. Hirscher then went on to become the first Austrian overall champion since Benjamin Raich in 2006.
Ligety was 0.47 off the lead when he straddled a gate about a third into his opening run.
“Straddling is part of the sport,” Ligety said.
But he was frustrated by the conditions.
“Not good,” he added. “It was really rough already at (starting number) 11. … It’s definitely a surface that is not easy to push on and when it’s foggy too, that makes it pretty difficult.”
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