Hirscher holds big lead after 1st run of WCup giant slalom

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (AP) Overall leader Marcel Hirscher claimed his fourth straight World Cup giant slalom victory with the discipline's third-biggest winning margin on Sunday.

Hirscher navigated the Kandahar course in 2 minutes, 43.23 seconds, beating Germany's Felix Neureuther by a huge 3.28 seconds and 37-year-compatriot Benjamin Raich by 3.44 for his 30th career World Cup victory.

Only Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark won by a bigger margin - by 4.06 seconds in the 1978/79 season and 3.73 in 1978/79.

''I did nothing special today. It's really unbelievable because I just skied,'' Hirscher said. ''There were other races where I felt much better.''

Hirscher is the first Austrian to achieve the feat of four World Cup giant slalom victories in a row.

''It's positive that my big target is 100 points nearer,'' said Hirscher, attempting to be the first man to win four consecutive overall titles.

It was his seventh win of the season. The technical specialist led Raich by 1.99 after a blistering first run.

''You have to race in a race and not play tactics,'' Hirscher said of his decision to attack the second run, rather than sit back on his lead. ''I'm delighted to have won here because we changed a couple of things in training and they worked out.''

Local favorite Neureuther had mixed feelings with second place on his home course.

''I'm happy because it's my best giant slalom result, but you don't want silver at 3.28 behind,'' the German said. ''Marcel is in a league of his own and you have to accept it. You look at why there's such a gap and then try the next time to narrow it.''

Three-time world champion Ted Ligety of the United States was fourth, 3.56 back, recovering from eighth in the first run by taking the provisional lead.

Ligety had been the last skier to achieve four straight World Cup giant slalom victories between March and December 2013.

''Only Marcel could have won it,'' Ligety said. ''It's really impressive what the guy produced here. I just didn't have it in me today.''

Alexis Pinturault of France was fifth, 3.68 back, followed by Switzerland's Carlo Janka and Italy's Roberto Nani.

Hirscher, who turns 26 on Monday, stretched his overall standings lead to 188 points over Norway's Kjetil Jansrud, who finished 5.13 off the pace in 15th. Hirscher has 1,128 points and Jansrud 940.

Jansrud did well to finish after slipping early in his second run.

''I wanted to get among the top 10 after the first run but it wasn't possible after this huge mistake,'' the Norwegian said. ''I got points and that's important.''

Hirscher also extended his lead in the giant slalom standings to 188 points with two races left. The Austrian has 560 points and Ligety is second on 372.

Hirscher is the eighth male skier to amass 30 World Cup wins, and while he has Raich's 36 in sight, he still has some way to catch compatriot Hermann Maier on 54.

He did, however, equal the Austrian record of 14 World Cup giant slalom wins shared by Maier and Raich.

As he said: nothing special.

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