Hirscher turns up the heat in Val d’Isere
Austrian giant slalom star Marcel Hirscher turned up the heat on 2006 Olympic champion Ted Ligety, mastering a notoriously difficult Val d’Isere piste in Saturday’s World Cup race, which his rival didn’t manage to finish.
Hirscher, who sits second in this season’s World Cup leaderboard behind Aksel Lund Svindal – one place and 66 points ahead of Ligety – swept to his second win of the season and his fourth podium finish in five races. It was Ligety’s first failure to complete a first run since February 2009 – an astonishing 35 races ago.
If it was a blow to world champion Ligety, looking for his fifth straight win, two-time defending World Cup champion Hirscher had plenty of reason to be happy with his form – but admitted that he would have rather tested himself against Ligety throughout an entire race as the pair prepare to do battle in Sochi this February.
“It's a great victory for sure. But we don't know where we really are right now,” he said afterwards. “Was it a really good run from us or is Ted skiing better than the rest of the world right now? That's the question.”
Sister act sees Schild on brink of history
Marlies Schild beat her own sister in the women’s World Cup slalom in Courcheval on Tuesday – and stands on the verge of a place in the history books.
The Austrian, world champion in 2011, earned first place after a superb second run of 53.26 seconds and swapped places with promising younger sister Bernadette, who had been fastest in the first outing but ultimately took third position. It meant that Marlies, nine years Bernadette’s senior, won the 34th World Cup slalom of her career – tying with record holder Vreni Schneider, who retired in 1995. This win was also a welcome return to form ahead of Sochi 2014 for the 32 year-old, whose last victory came in February 2012.
It was an unhappy afternoon for France’s Tessa Worley, though. Just days after winning well in St Moritz, she was taken to hospital after injuring a knee during the first run.
Boe the younger steals Fourcade’s home thunder
Vancouver silver medalist Martin Fourcade suffered an unexpected blip in his preparations for a tilt at Olympic biathlon gold on Sunday – finishing 17th in the men’s pursuit in front of a large partisan crowd in Le Grand-Bornand (FRA) and failing to achieve a podium finish for the first time in 14 races.
The World Cup holder was comprehensively beaten by young Norwegian Johannes Boe, three times junior world champion, who won comfortably by 37.5 seconds from Germany’s Erik Lesser. Boe had also triumphed in the previous day’s sprint, with Fourcade finishing third behind Ondrej Moravec. The 20 year-old is the younger brother of Tarjei Boe, five years his senior, who was a gold medalist in the biathlon relay at Vancouver 2010. Tarjei, the 2010/11 World Cup winner, also appears to be returning to his best form after a period sidelined through illness – and may well find himself going head to head with his sibling for honours at Sochi 2014.
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