Gran Risa is considered one of the toughest Giant Slalom courses in the world. This comes as no surprise once you look at it’s technical data – 448 meters vertical drop, 1255 meters length and 53% of maximum inclination make it clear that in order to win in Alta Badia one needs to have both skills and stamina.
In today’s racer one racer showed he had plenty of both, Marcel Hirscher skied a fantastic race and proved mainly to himself that he could win even when Ted Ligety has a very good race. He made it look easy, coming down last, as he clocked the fastest combined time of the day. The two skiers which managed to finish the closest to Hirscher were the same ones from the first run – Alexis Pinturault claimed his second podium of the season (he was second in the Season Opener in Soelden) while Ted Ligety finished third, making it his 33rd Giant Slalom podium. He is now tied to Benjamin Raich, in third place on the all-time list. Only Stenmark and Von Grünigen, have achieved more, 72 and 46 respectively.
After winning the last World Cup Giant Slalom race in Val d'Isère, when Ligety skied out in the first run, Hirscher walks home with the best present he could have asked for.
"It’s was an awesome, race", a thrilled Hirscher said right after today’s victory. "If only you knew how bad my skiing and my feeling were yesterday. I doubt anyone would ever believe I could win today. Somehow I still showed some really good skiing in the end and I couldn’t be happier".
This victory also comes as an important boost of confidence for Hirscher: "It was really, really important for me to win when Ted is competitive. I have done everything I possibly could to get closer to Ted and its tough to get faster ad faster but it was worth it", he explained.
Alexis Pinturault was very pleased with his performance today; adding a podium at one of the Classics is a great achievement at his age.
"I am very happy and very proud about this podium, it’s a great feeling knowing I can compete with the best. I didn’t do any special preparation for today but after Val d’Isere I did some tests with the material. I was not very happy with my setup in Beaver Creek and Val d’Isere and I finished just off the podium, we changed a few things and today it worked so I hope to continue on this path", Pinturault said.
"Normally the Gran Risa is so icy and this year the snow was so easy that it was hard to push. That’s what I trained for", Ligety said. "Still, I think I could have pushed a bit more especially in the first run but its ok, it’s how it goes. You need to be able to be both quick on your feet and make quick judgment calls and my judgment call was a little bit off today. Any podium is a great podium, even though today was by some two seconds off from what I normally do but it’s still something to be happy about", he explained.