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Marcel Hirscher continues early-season domination with World Cup GS win in Val d'Isere

VAL D'ISERE, France — Marcel Hirscher earned a record fifth win in Val d'Isere on Saturday with a dominating performance in a World Cup giant slalom on the treacherous Face de Bellevarde.

The Austrian technical specialist, who also won last week's giant slalom in Beaver Creek after posting a surprise super-G victory in Colorado, won by a massive margin of 1.29 seconds ahead of Felix Neureuther in the French Alps.

Frenchman Victor Muffat-Jeandet completed the podium on his home snow, 1.58 seconds off the pace.

After building a small lead of 0.14 seconds over Henrik Kristoffersen in the first run, Hirscher destroyed his rivals in the afternoon by taking risks while always looking in total control on the bumpy course where he claimed his first World Cup win back in 2009.

"I was on the edge," said Hirscher, after claiming a 16th giant slalom victory in the combined time of 2 minutes, 8.49 seconds. "For me this is the most difficult slope."

Trevor Philp of Calgary was 18th.

Seeking a second World Cup giant win, Kristoffersen also went all out but went out of the race after straddling a gate on a tricky turn on the top section of the course.

It was Hirscher's third World Cup win this season and Neureuther's first podium, while Muffat-Jeandet again showed he is an emerging contender after earning a second straight top-three finish.

Winner of four straight overall titles, Hirscher has now won four giant slaloms and one slalom in Val d'Isere.

"It's pretty cool to race here, the French are ski fanatics," Hirscher said.

Sitting in fourth place after the first run, Thomas Fanara straddled the same gate as Kristoffersen after losing his balance on a small bump and ended up in the security net after a spectacular fall. He was quickly back on his feet and appeared to be uninjured.

American Ted Ligety had another disappointing performance in his favourite discipline after crashing in the Beaver Creek giant slalom. He skied too conservatively and made a big mistake in the first run, ending up 2.83 seconds behind Hirscher and failing to qualify for the afternoon run.

Ligety has achieved just one podium finish in his last six GS races.

"Ted was upset about the start time — 9.30 start time — with the top part in the sun and the bottom part in the shade," said U.S. coach Sasha Rearick. "He was very dramatic about how he was upset about it. I think he never got his mind off of that."

The World Cup continues in Val D'Isere on Sunday with a men's slalom.

The Associated Press

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