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Mens Giant Slalom: The Big Duel

17 February 2017: In no other race are there two so clear favourites. Austria against France, Marcel Hirscher against Alexis Pinturault, is the eagerly awaited duel in the Mens' Giant Slalom on Friday. Any other world champion in this discipline would be a big surprise. Ready, Steady, Go!

Marcel Hirscher (Claudio Kernen)
Alexis Pinturault (Claudio Kernen)

The History. In no other discipline in modern alpine racing does the equipment and technology come as close to ’’normal’’ skiing as it does in Giant Slalom. In former times the classic style “Umsteigen” (stepping) was performed in perfection by the Swede Ingemar Stenmark. Today the carving turn had brought a lot dynamic. In 1950 the Giant Slalom was for the first time part of the World Championships, the first world champion was Zeno Colò (Italy).

The Requirements. The length difference of the course must be between 350 and 400 metres long, in St. Moritz it is 355. The number of changes of direction must be between 11 and 15 percent of the altitude difference.

The Ski. It must be at least 195 cm long, the width under the binding must be at least 6,5 cm wide, in front of the binding a minimum of 9,8 cm. the minimum radius must be at least 35 m.

The Modus. Until 1966 the men’s Giant Slalom was the result of just one run, since then there are two courses set which are planted by two different course setters. Since the first numbers are generally considered to be advantageous because the course has fewer depressions and holes, the starting order is given starting with the top 15 racers. The first seven receive a number between 1 to 7, the racers between 8 and 15 receive a number between 8 and 15. On the second run the first 30 racers from the results of the first run start in reverse order.

The WSC-Course. The course in St. Moritz is characterized by many changes in terrain. The racers have to try to pick up speed continuously in order to have enough speed in the flat parts. Selecting a good line is of great importance and the racers have to take on a fight against the mountain itself.

The Title-Holder. Ted Ligety (USA) won for the third time in a row on home snow in Vail, the only other skiers to have achieved this in the world championships are Ingmar Stenmark (Slalom) and Kjetil Andre Aamodt (Combined). Marcel Hirscher (Austria) was second in 2015 ahead of Alexis Pinturault (France). Carlo Janka was, in 11th place the best Swiss racer, the Obersaxer was in 2009 the last Swiss racer to become world champion in this discipline.

The Favourites. Two names stand out in the foreground: Alexis Pinterault (France) who won three of the six races this season and Marcel Hirscher (Austria) with two victories and four times coming in second. Any other world champion would be a surprise, no matter whether from the strong French team (next to Pinturault, Faivre) or the Germans, (Neureuther, Luitz). At the rehearsal at the world cup final 2016 won the Frenchman Fanara, (who is missing due to a torn cross ligament) ahead of his fellow countrymen Pinturault and Faivre, Justin Murisier (9th) was the best Swiss racer.

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