Oct 26, 2014 6:09 AM

Hirscher leads Ligety after 1st run of WCup GS

The Associated Press

SOELDEN, Austria (AP) Overall champion Marcel Hirscher built a 0.19-second lead over Ted Ligety in the first run of the season-opening World Cup giant slalom on Sunday.

The Austrian came down the Rettenbach glacier in 1 minute, 14.52 seconds to beat Ligety, who is the Olympic and world champion in the discipline and won the race the past three years.

Third-place Fritz Dopfer of Germany was 0.52 off the lead, and Austrian veteran Benjamin Raich was 0.71 behind in fourth. Alexis Pinturault of France, who was third in the overall rankings last season, trailed Hirscher by 0.88.

"No matter how the race ends, it was an indicator and it was fun," Hirscher said about his ongoing battle with Ligety in GS.

The pair tied for the top spot in last season's GS standings with the title being awarded to Ligety as the American had won more races.

Ligety wasn't clean on the piste he described as "chunky in places but for the most part it's a nice surface."

The American caught a bump in the steep part but recovered well on the flat finish section.

"I thought I had a pretty bad run so I am happy to be only two-tenths out," Ligety said.

Hirscher looked more solid throughout and led Ligety by three-quarters of a second at the final split time but lost speed as he came off his race line.

"It went perfectly until on the flat shortly before the finish," Hirscher said. "I almost slipped but luckily I managed to save some of my time."

Hirscher could become the first Austrian winner in Soelden since Hermann Maier in 2005.

In clear, sunny conditions the course featured bumpy spots that caused problems for many racers.

Olympic super-G champion Kjetil Jansrud of Norway came 2.87 back in 19th, while 2011 overall champion Ivica Kostelic of Croatia struggled all the way down before finishing 5.78 seconds behind and missing out on the second run.

Hannes Reichelt, competing in his first race since winning the downhill in Kitzbuehel in January, straddled a gate and failed to finish.

Several top contenders, including Aksel Lund Svindal, Bode Miller and Felix Neureuther, sat out the race with injuries.


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