PYEONGCHANG, South Korea >> Marcel Hirscher has turned his domination in the giant slalom into a second gold medal at the Pyeongchang Olympics.
The 28-year-old Austrian star extended his first-run lead to win by a huge margin of 1.27 seconds over hard-charging Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway. Kristoffersen rose from 10th-fastest in the morning with the quickest time in the second run.
Alexis Pinturault of France finished 1.31 behind Hirscher’s two-run time of 2 minutes, 18.04 seconds to get the bronze medal.
Hirscher has a good chance at a third gold medal in his best event, the slalom, which is scheduled for Thursday. He earlier won the Alpine combined, when Pinturault also was on the podium taking silver.
Hirscher raised his right index finger in the air on crossing the finish line, screaming “Yesss!” as he skied toward a television camera.
An Olympic medal in giant slalom was one of the few honors Hirscher lacked after two near misses. He placed fourth in GS at both the 2010 Vancouver Games and 2014 Sochi Games.
Hirscher is also the world champion in giant slalom, taking gold last year at St. Moritz, Switzerland.
Ted Ligety, the 2014 Olympic champion and a three-time world champion before Hirscher, let his title slip without contending for a medal. The 33-year-old American was 20th-fastest after a cautious first run in the morning, and finished more than three seconds back, outside the top 10.
Ligety said Hirscher’s ability and mental toughness were “pretty phenomenal.”
“He’s always able to bring out those amazing performances,” he said. “It’s amazing to be able to watch that.”
Hirscher’s victory played out under blue skies on a clear, cold day at Yongpyong Alpine Center.
Despite the conditions, two top racers had crashing falls through the finish line in the first run. Both Luca de Aliprandini of Italy and Manuel Feller of Austria lost balance approaching the next-to-last gate and were disqualified. De Aliprandini had been running close to the lead.
Hirscher’s dominating season is more remarkable for the fact he missed his offseason training on snow after breaking his left ankle in August.
Still, he did not miss a World Cup race and came to South Korea with a clear lead in the overall standings. He is favored to win a record-extending seventh straight overall title next month.
First, Hirscher has another Olympic title to win in an expected duel with Kristoffersen.