Hirscher recorded a combined time of 2:38.45 to claim the win, 16-hundredths of a second ahead of Ligety, while German Fritz Dopfer finished in third, 62-hundredths off the Austrian pace.
“Everything is different now,” laughed Hirscher, when asked about his previous case of Beaver Creek dread. “I always had a tough time qualifying for the second run here. It feels good to beat Mr. GS (referring to Ligety) today, but I know he will be back on Tuesday.”
“Dude, you were third last year,” Ligety answered. “You were 18 when you were having problems.”
The American held a 21-hundredths advantage over Hirscher after the first run, while Norway’s Leif Kristian Haugen sat in third. Haugen, a member of the University of Denver ski team, was a surprise contender, coming out of the 27th start position to ski his way into the mix.
“I don’t think about how much advantage I have after the first run,” offered Ligety. “I had a good second run, but just a few too many bobbles. You can’t do that when Marcel skis the way he did today.”
Dopfer’s podium appearance was as amazing to the German as it was to the assembled media that had to scramble to pull up information on the 24-year-old from Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Prior to Sunday, Dopfer’s best World Cup Giant Slalom result had been a 12th place showing last winter in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia.
“I can’t believe this result and that I am on the podium with Ted and Marcel,” explained Dopfer. “Whenever I watch video, I watch Ted Ligety. He is who I try to ski like.”
Rounding out the top five Sunday were Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud in fourth and Finland’s Marcus Sandell. Tommy Ford, the only other U.S. racer to qualify for the second run, ended the day in 22nd position.
The Audi Birds of Prey Race Week will continue into next week with a second set of World Cup men’s and women’s races. The events have been relocated to Beaver Creek from Val d’Isere, France where unseasonably warm temperatures have prevented organizers from making enough snow on the racecourses.
The transplanted races will include Men’s Giant Slalom on Tuesday, December 6; Women’s Super-G on Wednesday, December 7; and Men’s Slalom on Thursday, December 8.
The 2011 Audi Birds of Prey World Cup Race Week is a project of the Vail Valley Foundation. For additional information on Birds of Prey, check out www.bcworldcup.com. For more information on the Vail Valley Foundation, visit www.vvf.org.
About Vail Resorts
Vail Resorts, Inc., through its subsidiaries, is the leading mountain resort operator in the United States. The Company's subsidiaries operate the mountain resort properties of Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone mountain resorts in Colorado, and the Heavenly Ski Resort and Northstar California in the Lake Tahoe area of California and Nevada, and the Grand Teton Lodge Company in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The Company's subsidiary, RockResorts, a luxury resort property and hotel company, manages casually elegant properties. Vail Resorts Development Company is the real estate planning, development and construction subsidiary of Vail Resorts, Inc. Vail Resorts is a publicly held company traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: MTN). The Vail Resorts company website is www.vailresorts.com and consumer website is www.snow.com.