Grange wins slalom crown

Source:AFP Published: 2015-2-16 23:18:01

Frenchman claims surprising victory

Jean-Baptiste Grange skis during the 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships on Sunday in Beaver Creek, Colorado. Photo: AFP

France's Jean-Baptiste Grange produced a blistering second slalom run Sunday, upsetting pre-race favorite Marcel Hirscher to claim his second career world championship title.

Grange stole the surprise victory from World Cup overall leader Hirscher, who failed to finish after missing a gate in the Alpine Skiing World Championships.

"In these big events like the worlds and the Olympics there is a lot of stress and you are not always feeling good. But you have to believe in yourself and today was my day," said Grange.

The 2011 world slalom champion Grange clocked an aggregate time of one minute 57.47 seconds over the two runs to spoil Hirscher's bid for a second gold of the biennial championships.

Fritz Dopfer finished 0.35 seconds back for the silver while his German compatriot and World Cup slalom leader Felix Neureuther took the bronze with a time of 1:58.02.

Norway's Henrik Kristoffersen finished fourth while Swede Mattias Hargin ­rounded out the top five.

Reigning World Cup champ Hirscher had the best time until the last third of his run when he skied off course handing the win to Grange, who claimed the third world championship medal of his career.

Skiing first out of the gate in the morning session, Hirscher earned himself a 0.28-second lead over Russian Alexander Khoroshilov.

Grange snapped a string of aggregate slalom victories in major international competitions.

But since 2002 until now, the leader after the first run had always won the slalom at the World Championships and Olympic Games.

A dramatic change in the weather didn't help Hirscher as a snowstorm hit in the break between the first and second legs of the slalom.

The heavy afternoon ­snowfall transformed the ­morning's icy, twisting piste into a ­snow-covered slope with ­limited visibility.

Organizers changed the layout for the second run by moving some of the gates to make the course straighter ­after 43 ski racers didn't ­finish the first run.

Grange, who is the son of two former French national team ski racers, also won a bronze at the 2007 worlds in Are, Sweden.

"It is a wonderful gift," Grange said. "The last four years I have had injuries and sometimes I lacked confidence. It is always easier to ski when you win.

"I didn't expect this, but it is a dream come true."

Dopfer injured his back in training two weeks ago but recovered in time to reach the first world championships podium on Sunday.

Dopfer finished sixth after the first run but felt good about his chances in the afternoon.

"After the first run I was confident because I was skiing really good," Dopfer said.

"I tried to push myself to my limit and I handled it. I am just thankful to stand on the podium."

It marked the second straight podium for Neureuther who won silver at the 2013 world championships.

Neureuther almost suffered the same fate as Hirscher but recovered and made it to the finish.

"I never thought it would be enough to be on the podium," he said. "I had a mistake but I got lucky because Marcel made a bigger mistake and it go me on the podium."

Posted in: Winter Sport

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