But all was not lost for Hirscher. His fourth-place finish today was more than enough for him to secure the overall season title ahead of Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal, who did not finish the first run.
"I need some time to process everything that happened today, it was a crazy race", Hirscher said. "I'm really happy about the Overall and am not really thinking about the GS cup at this point. The Overall was my big goal this season and I couldn't be happier that I was able to defend it. I have to thank my team, I might have not been the easiest to deal with sometimes during the season but they have supported me all along", he continued.
Ligety won today’s race by 0.03 over Alexis Pinturault (FRA). Sitting in first place, Ligety needed Hirscher to finish lower than third place, which Felix Neureuther (GER) took care of when he came down as the last racer and claimed the final podium spot by the slimmest of margins, 0.01 seconds, bumping Hirscher to fourth place on the day and out of the running for the giant slalom globe.
"I’m super thrilled, it’s always a big goal of mine every season to win the giant slalom globe, but that was by the skin of my teeth today", said Ligety. "I owe Felix a few drinks for edging Marcel. It’s really a testament to Marcel that he was able to get on the podium at nearly every race this year and make it a fight to win the globe. I’m just really happy that it worked out in my favor by the hundredths".
Svindal skied out on the upper part of the course in the first run, giving him his second race of the weekend with zero points and virtually handing the season title to Hirscher. Svindal will not compete in tomorrow’s slalom, guaranteeing Hirscher the Big Globe.
"I am not as good now as I was earlier this winter and it’s something to look at and make sure it doesn’t happen next year. With the two speed titles I had a good season that could have been a great season", said Svindal after his first run.
But today, the battle for the giant slalom globe took center stage in an entertaining race that saw the lead continually changing hands. The crowd was clearly behind Ligety and his efforts continue his reign as ‘Mr. Giant Slalom’. He received a standing ovation after the win and a hearty bear hug from all his closest competitors.
"I had done a bit of math before the race and I knew today that if I finished in the lead that Marcel had to finish in fourth", Ligety explained. "But he had a really good run, so I wasn’t sure if everything would work out the way it did".
It was the first day without the crystal blue skies in Lenzerheide (SUI), but it didn’t keep the fans away as a packed house was treated to excellent action from the athletes. After the first run Felix Neureuther led the field with a 0.13 advantage over Ligety. Fritz Dopfer sat in third after the first run.
Tomorrow the last globe of the season will be handed out when Neureuther hopes to hold on to his incredibly slim five-point lead over Hirscher in the slalom standings. Also in the hunt for the slalom globe is teen sensation Henrik Kirstoffersen (NOR), who trails by 40 points.
"Tomorrow will be a big challenge, beating Felix who is skiing so incredibly well will be difficult tomorrow so don't blame if if things don't go my way", Hirscher shared his thoughts about the slalom race.