PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — Marcel Hirscher has turned his domination in the giant slalom into a second gold medal at the Pyeongchang Olympics.
The 28-year-old Austrian star extended his first-run lead to win by a huge margin of 1.27 seconds over hard-charging Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway. Kristoffersen rose from 10th-fastest in the morning with the quickest time in the second run.
Hirsher won his first Olympic gold medal in the Alpine combined last week, and that took a lot of pressure off him.
Still, he was never seriously challenged Sunday as he continues to compile his historically great season.
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“I know, OK, if once it is not happening or not working out good, who cares?” he said. “I have (won) way more already than I was ever, ever expecting. That is giving you a lot of light shoulders.”
Alexis Pinturault of France finished 1.31 behind Hirscher’s two-run time of 2 minutes, 18.04 seconds to get the bronze medal.
Hirscher has a good chance at a third gold medal in his best event, the slalom, which is scheduled for Thursday.
Denied a first career gold medal again when he finished second in the combined, Pinturault said it was his “great luck” to race in Hirscher’s era: “It’s something really special. He is the greatest ever.”
Hirscher raised his right index finger in the air on crossing the finish line, screaming “Yesss!” as he skied toward a television camera.
An Olympic medal in giant slalom was one of the few honors Hirscher lacked after two near misses. He placed fourth in GS at both the 2010 Vancouver Games and 2014 Sochi Games, when Pinturault also took bronze.
Hirscher is also the world champion in giant slalom, taking gold last year at St. Moritz, Switzerland.
Ted Ligety, the 2014 Olympic champion and a three-time world champion before Hirscher, let his title slip without contending for a medal. The 33-year-old American was 20th-fastest after a cautious first run in the morning, and finished more than three seconds back, outside the top 10.
Ligety said Hirscher’s ability and mental toughness were “pretty phenomenal.”
“He’s always able to bring out those amazing performances,” he said. “It’s amazing to be able to watch that.”
Hirscher’s victory played out under blue skies on a clear, cold day at Yongpyong Alpine Center.
Despite the conditions, two top racers had crashing falls through the finish line in the first run. Both Luca de Aliprandini of Italy and Manuel Feller of Austria lost balance approaching the next-to-last gate and were disqualified. De Aliprandini had been running close to the lead.
Kristoffersen acknowledged racing “a little angry” in the afternoon after his first run on a relatively fast and straight setting.
With Hirscher so dominant, it seemed the others were racing for silver.
“Marcel is at the moment unbeatable in GS. Today, I won the silver,” said the 23-year-old racer, who has been runner-up behind Hirscher three times in World Cup giant slalom this season.
Hirscher’s dominating season is more remarkable for the fact he missed his offseason training on snow after breaking his left ankle in August.
Still, he did not miss a World Cup race and came to South Korea with a clear lead in the overall standings, while also rising above Hermann Maier into second place on the all-time men’s win list. His 55 wins trail only Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark’s 86.
Hirscher is favored to win a record-extending seventh straight overall title next month.
First, he has another Olympic title to win in an expected duel with Kristoffersen in the slalom.
More AP Olympics: https://wintergames.ap.org