PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) - Majestic Marcel Hirscher won his second gold medal of the Pyeongchang Games after leaving a field of rivals trailing in his wake with another technical masterclass in the giant slalom at Yongpyong Alpine Centre on Sunday.
The Austrian, who had already won the men’s combined, posted a time of two minutes 18.04 seconds for his two runs, a full 1.27 seconds ahead of Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen, who produced the quickest second run to leap up to second from 10th in the morning run.
“Wow. It was not so easy to be the absolute favourite in this discipline, then sitting up there as the leader from the first run knowing that Henrik ripped it. I had no choice, I knew I have to give 100 percent and I have to go into this battle,” Hirscher told reporters.
The Austrian had come into these Games without a gold medal to his name despite his domination of the sport in the past seven years but his rivals conceded that, in current form, he is simply unstoppable in the technical events.
“Marcel is at the moment unbeatable in giant slalom... At the moment he’s just way better than anybody else,” said Kristoffersen.
France’s Alexis Pinturault, a silver medal-winner behind Hirscher in the combined, won bronze and also conceded there was little that could be done to stop the Austrian.
“It was a good fight but Marcel was a step ahead as he has been all year,” said the Frenchman, who also won bronze in the giant slalom in Sochi.
Hirscher has won the last six overall World Cup titles and is poised to claim a seventh this season.
The Austrian is also the defending giant slalom world champion and he can add to his Pyeongchang medal haul in his favourite event, the slalom, on Thursday.
The 28-year-old, who won a slalom silver in Sochi, claimed his third overall Olympic medal by making a challenging course look easy with an immaculate line and near-perfect execution through both runs.
He had a 0.63-second lead over Pinturault from the first leg and 1.31 over Kristoffersen, which proved to be vital given the Norwegian’s remarkable second run.
American Ted Ligety, the giant slalom winner in Sochi, finished in joint 15th place, a full 3.21 seconds behind the lead.
“This is probably it for me (at) these Games,” the 33-year-old said, adding that he was likely to skip Thursday’s slalom and head back to Europe.
Editing by John O'Brien and Clare Fallon