GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany — Marcel Hirscher claimed his 55th World Cup victory by finishing well ahead of his rivals in Sunday’s giant slalom, the last before the Olympics.
The Austrian six-time overall champion was fastest in both runs for a combined time of 2 minutes, 40.18 seconds on the Kandahar course — 1.57 seconds faster than compatriot Manuel Feller and 1.69 quicker than Ted Ligety of the United States.
“It’s really, really difficult to beat Marcel, unless he beats himself,” Ligety said. “You have to ski as fast as you can and hope that’s good enough, but it probably won’t be if he skis as well as he can.”
Hirscher, who broke his ankle in the offseason and missed his entire preparation period, overtook Austrian great Hermann Maier’s career total of World Cup wins.
“It’s definitely something special to be Austria’s No. 1 in career victories so a huge day for myself,” said Hirscher, who only has Swedish standout Ingemar Stenmark ahead of him in men’s skiing with 86 wins.
“I give my best like every other athlete. But I’m quite stable this season and mentally everything is a little easier,” Hirscher said after his seventh giant slalom win in eight races. His third place at Val d’Isere in France was the only exception.
“I’m very happy and very surprised that this season is going so well,” the Austrian said.
The 25-year-old Feller almost lost control as he skied to the limit but managed to hang on to claim his first podium finish.
Ligety was 0.63 behind Hirscher after the first run.
“This hill is always a really tough hill. It’s not a place you can put two really good turns together, unless you’re Marcel,” Ligety said after he claimed his first podium place of the season.
It was his first since placing second in a super-G at Beaver Creek in December 2015.
“I’m happy to make that step here when it’s been a tough couple of years injury-wise,” Ligety said.
Henrik Kristoffersen, Hirscher’s closest rival in both the overall and giant slalom standings, finished fourth, 1.83 behind.
Hirscher stretched his lead over the Norwegian to 105 points in the discipline standings — with his 26th giant slalom victory — and 224 in the overall standings.
Alexis Pinturault, the only man other than Hirscher to have won any of the last 11 World Cup giant slaloms, finished 2.32 off the pace in ninth.