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KRANJSKA GORA Matt Bryant
Jersey
, Slovenia (AP) Marcel Hirscher locked up the men’s World
Cup giant slalom title with a race to spare on Saturday, underlining his ongoing
dominance of the discipline.

The Olympic GS champion from Austria won the penultimate event of the season
for his 56th career victory, giving him an insurmountable 125-point lead in the
GS standings over Norwegian rival Henrik Kristoffersen. A win is worth 100
points.

And Hirscher did so in style, posting the fastest times in both runs. He
finished in 2 minutes, 20.76 seconds, beating runner-up Kristoffersen by 1.66
seconds. Alexis Pinturault of France was more than 2 seconds off the pace in
third.

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”I am very happy that it happened today,” said the Austrian Matt Bosher
Jersey
, adding he wasn’t expecting to wrap up the title on
Saturday, a day after he turned 29.

”To me this comes as a little bit as a surprise as I haven’t been thinking
about it. I was just thinking about the race. Normally you would need the
calculator only in two weeks’ time,” he said, referring to the World Cup finals
in Are, Sweden.

Hirscher winning the race, however, was everything but a surprise.

The Austrian has won eight of the last 10 World Cup giant slaloms and reached
the podium of the other two. The last time he failed to finish in the top three
was when he placed fifth at the season-ending GS in St. Moritz Ricardo
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, Switzerland, in March 2016.

”Marcel is in his own league,” Kristoffersen said. ”It’s OK at the moment,
it’s OK that Marcel wins the globe. He is the best racer.”

Kristoffersen trailed Hirscher by 0.73 seconds after the opening run. The
Norwegian tried to put pressure on his Austrian rival with an all-attacking
second run, but a misjudged turn halfway down the course slowed him.

”I had a big mistake in the middle part, really big. And the course is not
steep after that so I had no speed. If you have such a mistake, you have no
chance against Marcel Ryan
Schraeder Jersey
,” the Norwegian said.

It was Hirscher’s fourth straight GS title and fifth in total, matching
American Ted Ligety’s tally. Only Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark won the trophy
more times – eight.

Working his way back from knee and back injuries, Ligety hasn’t won a race
since October 2015. On Saturday, he missed a gate and went out before the first
split time of his opening run.

Apart from dominating GS, Hirscher was also expected to also wrap up the
slalom title this weekend as he will enter Sunday’s race with a 144-point lead
over Kristoffersen.

And, more importantly, the Austrian is also on the brink of an unprecedented
seventh straight overall championship.

Leading Kristoffersen by 269 points Andy Levitre
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, Hirscher won’t be able to officially claim the big crystal
globe on Sunday with six races still to go. However, unless Kristoffersen starts
competing in other events than slalom and GS, he will be left with just two more
chances to score points after the weekend.

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