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Hirscher claims first world giant slalom title

Latest update : 17/02/2017

© AFP | Austria's Marcel Hirscher shows his delight in the finish area after the second run of the men's giant slalom race at the 2017 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in St Moritz on February 17, 2017

ST. MORITZ (SWITZERLAND) (AFP) - 

Austrian Marcel Hirscher kept his nerve in deteriorating conditions to win his first world giant slalom title on Friday after two previous silvers.

Hirscher, on track for a sixth consecutive World Cup overall crystal globe and silver medallist in last week's alpine combined in St Moritz, clocked a total time of 2min 13.31sec, with snow flurries and cloud hampering the second run.

Hirscher's unheralded teammate Roland Leitinger, whose previous best World Cup finish was a sixth place in the Soleden giant slalom in 2015, claimed silver, 0.25sec adrift.

Leif Kristian Haugen of Norway usurped favoured teammate Henrik Kristoffersen by five-hundredths of a second to take bronze, at 0.71sec.

Reigning three-time champion Ted Ligety, behind whom Hirscher won silvers in 2015 in Beaver Creek/Vail and 2013 in Schladming, was unable to defend his title, the American having undergone surgery on a back injury.

French hopes of a third successive gold medal in St Moritz, after victories in the team event and women's giant slalom (Tessa Worley), were pinned on Alexis Pinturault, winner of three giant slaloms on the World Cup circuit this season.

Sitting primed in third place after the first run, Pinturault faded badly on the second, timing only the 21st fastest descent to eventually finish a disappointing seventh, 0.98sec off Hirscher's pace.

It was the third individual title for the 27-year-old Hirscher, who won the slalom in 2013 and combined in 2015, as well as picking up two team golds in those world champs.

The second leg of the giant slalom had been delayed after the wing of the Swiss Air Force exhibition fly-by plane clipped a cable that caused a camera to fall 50 metres to the ground, landing in the finish area but without injuring anyone.

While the incident occurred between runs, with no racers in the finish area, there were many people in the locality and it was reminiscent of the crash of a malfunctioning drone in a World Cup race in Italy in December 2015 that narrowly missed Hirscher.

© 2017 AFP