Marcel Hirscher all but guaranteed overall World Cup title
LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland (AP) -- Marcel Hirscher all but wrapped up his second straight overall World Cup title on Thursday, when closest challenger Aksel Lund Svindal conceded defeat after another of his favored speed events was canceled by bad weather at the finals.
Svindal said he won't race in the season-ending slalom on Sunday, meaning he can't overhaul his Austrian rival's 149-point lead in the standings.
"I see no reason to," said Svindal, who races the slalom only in super-combined events. Hirscher has excelled in slalom this season and has already won the discipline title.
"I would have to win that probably," Svindal said of Sunday's race. "Slalom is fun if you are alone and no one is watching, but against the best guys in the world, it's not so much fun."
Svindal accepted defeat at a news conference for his season-long titles in the downhill and super-G disciplines.
The overall champion in 2007 and `09, Svindal's hopes for a third title depended on scoring points heavily in those speed events on Wednesday and super-G on Thursday.
Both were casualties of persistent fog, falling snow and, on Thursday, cross winds on the steep, twisting course which forced organizers to cancel the super-G after 10 of 27 racers started. The final racer, Klaus Kroell of Austria, broke his left arm in a crash.
Hirscher "deserves (the title) this year 100 percent," said Svindal, comparing his rival's slalom results to Alpine greats Ingemar Stenmark and Alberto Tomba. "We're talking about one of the best skiers through history."
Svindal will complete his World Cup season on Saturday racing against Hirscher in giant slalom. Ted Ligety of the United States has already won the crystal globe trophy in that event.
The women's super-G, scheduled to start immediately after the men's, was also canceled, giving this season's discipline title to Tina Maze of Slovenia, who had already won in the overall and giant slalom standings.
Maze could only have been caught by Julia Mancuso. The American's head coach, Alex Hoedlmoser, said the steep, twisting course was "too dangerous" to race on.
"The wind was blowing the snow across the track and you couldn't really see enough. The conditions on the top were just not good enough," Hoedlmoser said.
In a difficult World Cup finals week for race organizers, the weather helped decide season-long titles for a second day.
Svindal and Lindsey Vonn clinched downhill titles Wednesday when both races fell victim to thick fog. Vonn's season was ended by injury last month but stayed one point ahead of Maze, who was denied a chance at sweeping all five women's World Cup trophies.
On Thursday, the men's super-G was delayed 3 1/2 hours by bad weather, and then was halted by cross winds after the first racer, Gauthier de Tessieres of France, came down.
De Tessieres recovered his balance well after being launched into the air midway through his run, at a ridge approaching a right-hand turn.
Kroell crashed out at the same spot, going directly into the safety nets and only stopping after a headfirst tumble. After 45 minutes' treatment on the course, Kroell was airlifted by helicopter to a hospital at Chur. The Austrian team said Kroell would undergo surgery there.
Svindal revealed that, after watching De Tessieres race on a television near the start house, Ligety had conducted an informal poll of racers. Few wanted to resume.
The World Cup finals week continues with the team parallel racing event on Friday.