By Brian Homewood
ADELBODEN, Switzerland (Reuters) – Austrian Marcel Hirscher continued his seemingly inevitable march towards a seventh overall World Cup title by winning the giant slalom at Adelboden on Saturday, despite nearly crashing near the end of his second run.
Hirscher, who will be aiming to add a first Olympic gold in Pyeongchang next month to his glittering array of titles, momentarily lost control on the steepest part of the course, costing him crucial seconds as he slipped and slithered.
Yet he still managed to recover and pip Henrik Kristoffersen by 0.17 seconds to win his sixth World Cup race of the season — three in the giant slalom and three in the slalom.
Frenchman Alexis Pinturault was third.
Bemused Norwegian Kristoffersen was left to contemplate his sixth second place of the season, with Hirscher the winner in four of those races.
Kristoffersen shook his head and raised his hands in the air in exasperation when he saw his rival’s time.
“It was a real fight… Marcel made a big mistake near the bottom, and so did I, and at the moment he is just better,” Kristoffersen told reporters.
Hirscher, who has 774 points, extended his lead in the overall standings to 114 over Kristoffersen with Pinturault third on 502.
In mild, sunny conditions, Hirscher was fastest on the first run with one minute 10.53 and although his second leg of 1:18.10 was only fifth fastest, it was still enough for the 51st World Cup win of his career.
The 28-year-old’s form is even more remarkable considering he broke his ankle in a training injury in August.
(Writing by Brian Homewood; editing by Ken Ferris)