Hirscher wins WCup GS; Ligety, Miller don't finish
VAL D'ISERE, France (AP) -- Two-time defending World Cup champion Marcel Hirscher won the giant slalom on Saturday, while favorite Ted Ligety and Bode Miller didn't finish their first runs.
Ligety took a gate too wide halfway down and went off course. Miller tripped over his skis near the bottom.
"Just a little bit (of) bad luck on my part," said Ligety, who failed to qualify for the second run for the first time in nearly five years.
Ligety had won the first two giant slaloms of the season, but was undone by an uncharacteristic technical error. Hirscher earned his second win of the season after his slalom victory in Levi, Finland.
Hirscher was third after the first run, 0.41 seconds behind Frenchman Alexis Pinturault. But he improved the second time down the tricky Stade Olympique de Bellevarde course to finish 0.76 seconds ahead of Thomas Fanara of France. Stefan Luitz of Germany was third.
Pinturault made an error on the top section and finished fourth.
Miller got his skis tangled near the bottom and tumbled over. U.S. men's head coach Sasha Rearick said Miller also was unlucky.
"He got his outside ski caught right at the initiation of the turn in the flat light. Those things can kind of happen," Rearick said. "I was proud of the effort he put in today and the way he approached the hill."
Both Miller and Ligety will take part in the slalom on Sunday.
"Looking forward to it," Rearick said. "Get some revenge on Val d'Isere."
The 29-year-old Ligety entered the race looking for his fifth straight World Cup win in giant slalom dating to last year.
Ligety won the final two GS races last season and the opening two this year at Soelden, Austria, and Beaver Creek, Colo. But he missed a gate turning in from the left side, went down on his hip and out of a first run for the first time since February 2009 at Sestriere, Italy.
"It's been a few years. But I've had a bunch of races where (on) second runs I went out," Ligety said. "You just have to fight."
Hirscher said he'd prefer to measure his performance against Ligety's to see where he stands in GS terms.
"It's a great victory for sure. But we don't know where we really are right now," Hirscher said. "Was it a really good run from us or is Ted skiing better than the rest of the world right now? That's the question."
Ligety, the four-time defending World Cup GS champion, doesn't consider the Bellevarde among his favorite courses.
"It's always super, super bumpy and miserable to ski, so I wasn't surprised by that at all," Ligety said. "It's not ideal. It's the kind of hill where anything can really happen, because it's such a tough and rough and bumpy hill."
Svindal, an Olympic bronze medalist in the discipline, can testify to that.
The burly Norwegian was the second to start and lost his balance approaching a gate from the right, missed the next gate and almost toppled over as his right foot lifted off the ground.
"One of my bindings went," Svindal said. "The conditions were difficult but that's the World Cup. You have to adapt."