Cool, calm, and collected – that’s how Austria’s Marcel Hirscher appeared after race day on Dec. 3 after winning the Giant Slalom, the last of three races at the 2017 Birds of Prey FIS World Cup in Beaver Creek, Colorado. He finished with a total time of 2:37.30 to take the gold once again at Beaver Creek, defending his 2015 GS title here at Beaver Creek as well.
On the hill, Hirscher was a different animal – charging hard through the gates and attacking the high-altitude course, which is known to leave the world’s best skiers breathless as they come through the finish at 8,900 feet, much higher than any other regular World Cup tour stop.
“Your runs [here at Birds of Prey] you think you’re going to die because we Europeans are not used to this high altitude so that is really hard for us,” Hirscher said at the post-race press conference.
“I was dying too,” said second-place finisher Heinrik Kristoffersen (NOR) who finished with a total time of 2:38.18.
It was an astounding return to form for Hirscher, whose aggressive skiing came in the wake of an ankle injury that had left him out of ski racing until his return in Levi, Finland, where he finished 17th. Hirscher said he had his sights set on much better results in Beaver Creek.
“The last month was really hard. I just skied… skied, skied, skied, skied,” Hirscher said “I’m very thankful for my teammates because they were kicking my a** every day. Really that is the truth. So I improved myself through every turn, but to win here is something completely different.”
A win in Beaver Creek meant a lot, Hirscher said, even though he said the venue is even more well-known for its speed events (Downhill and Super G) than for its Giant Slalom.
“In general here the races here are amazing, especially the speed races,” Hirscher added. “They are maybe the best in the world.”
Coming in third in Giant Slalom was Stefan Luitz, who marked a time of 2:38.33. This completed a stellar weekend for the German team, which notched its first Downhill podium since 2004 with a third-place finish from Thomas Dressen on the Saturday race.
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