Blardone victorious in Crans-Montana
Sun, 26 Feb 12:05:00 2012
Italy's Massimiliano Blardone won the men's Alpine skiing giant slalom in Crans-Montana on Sunday for his second success of the World Cup campaign.
Marcel Hirscher of Austria extended his lead in the overall World Cup standings after finishing in second place behind the Italian, while another Austrian, Hannes Reichelt, finished almost a full second behind Blardone in third place with the nation finishing with four representatives inside the top ten.
The powerful Italian, dubbed Superman on the circuit, was the only favourite to master the tricky second run on a broken course and won in a combined time of two minutes and 33.77 seconds.
It was Blardone's second victory this season following his spectacular comeback in Alta Badia in December after two barren seasons.
A lot was at stake for Hirscher, winner of the last two races in the discipline, as his two main rivals for the overall World Cup were out of contention.
World Cup defending champion Ivica Kostelic of Croatia is recovering from a knee injury and Swiss Beat Feuz was unable to qualify for the second run.
As a result, the Austrian skied a conservative second run to secure the runner-up spot and 80 vital points in the championship.
Hirscher now leads Kostelic by 92 points and Feuz by 95 in the overall World Cup standings.
Men's Giant Slalom : Crans
"I skied at my maximum. I could not do any better. It's just that Max was too strong today. Now 80 points is important, it's better than none at all in any case," Hirscher said.
With world champion Ted Ligety finishing ninth on the day, Hirscher also increased his lead in the giant slalom World Cup to leave the American 132 points adrift.
Hirscher did not say whether he would travel to Kvitfjell next weekend for the two Super-G races scheduled on the Norwegian downhill course.
But he said his Super-G attempt in Crans-Montana on Friday had helped.
"I wouldn't have done so well today without this Super-G test. It helped get things right today," he said.
While Hirscher refused to be drawn into talking about the overall championship, the Austrian staff were making plans.
"It's stressful because it's a first for Marcel. We must be clever and play it right," conceded Austrian men's team chief Mathias Berthold.
France's slalom world champion Jean-Baptiste Grange, plagued all season by back problems, showed signs of recovery by finishing a promising fourth
1 ITA Massimiliano Blardone 2:33.77
2 AUT Marcel Hirscher +00.16
3 AUT Hannes Reichelt +00.82
4 FRA Jean-Baptiste Grange +00.96
5 SUI Didier Defago +00.99
6 AUT Philipp Schörghofer +01.03
7 AUT Marcel Mathis +01.09
8 GER Fritz Dopfer +01.20
9 USA Ted Ligety +01.29
10 FIN Marcus Sandell +01.35
11 FRA Alexis Pinturault +01.38
12 NOR Truls Ove Karlsen +01.41
13 FRA Cyprien Richard +01.44
14 FRA Steve Missillier +01.51
15 SUI Didier Cuche +01.52
16 SUI Marc Berthod +01.54
17 AUT Benjamin Raich +01.55
18 FRA Gauthier De Tessieres +01.75
19 USA Tommy Ford +01.77
20 ITA Giovanni Borsotti +01.84Reuters / Eurosport