Hirscher wins Beaver Creek giant slalom
Halted by injury last winter, Marcel Hirscher sounded a warning to world champion Ted Ligety he would have a match this season when he won the giant slalom on his rival's home snow at Beaver Creek.
Led by the American favourite in the morning run, the 22-year-old Austrian skied an exceptional afternoon leg to upstage him in a combined time of two minutes 38.45 seconds.
Ligety, winner of the season opener in Soelden in October, had to settle for second place, 0.16 seconds behind.
"Obviously I wanted to confirm the form I already showed in Soelden. It was important to have an answer quickly, especially after returning from injury," said Hirscher, who had finished a promising sixth on the Austrian glacier.
The great prospect of Austrian skiing broke his left ankle in February shortly before the world championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen which he missed.
"I wanted to make it back to the level I left behind last season. That was my plan. But I didn't expect it to be so early. It's a real satisfaction," Hirscher said.
It was his fourth World Cup victory, the third in a giant slalom.
"But I had never won in Beaver Creek and it was one of the goals I had set for myself," he said.
The last podium spot went to unheralded German Fritz Dopfer, who had not previously made it into the top 10 in a World Cup race. The skier from Garmisch finished 0.62 off the pace.
Another giant slalom will be held on the same piste on Tuesday, replacing a race called off in Val D'Isere for lack of snow in the French Alps.
"It's great to think that I will have another chance next week. But make no mistake, Ted is really strong and the podium spots will be dear," Hirscher said.
Ligety agreed. "It's like being given a second lottery ticket. This second GS will feel like revenge," he said.
After all the weekend action, Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal, joint ninth on Sunday, tops the overall standings with 294 points, 34 ahead of Swiss Didier Cuche.