Marcel Hirscher wins World Cup overall title

Associated Press
Austrian Marcel Hirscher reacts in the finish area of the alpine ski, men's World Cup super-G race, in Schladming, Austria, Thursday, March 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Keystone, Jean-Christophe Bott)
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Austrian Marcel Hirscher reacts in the finish area of the alpine ski, men's World Cup super-G race, in …

SCHLADMING, Austria (AP) — Marcel Hirscher of Austria won the overall World Cup championship Saturday, overtaking Beat Feuz of Switzerland with a giant slalom victory.

Hirscher captured the season's final giant slalom to take the discipline title and go to the top of the overall standings. He holds a 25-point lead over Feuz, a speed specialist who said he won't start Sunday's slalom, the season's last race.

"I don't get it, unbelievable," Hirscher said. "I was well behind couple of times this season. I told myself that the race today was the same as a race in January to take the pressure off."

Hirscher is the fifth Austrian to win the overall title and the first since Benjamin Raich in 2006. The others are Franz Klammer, Hermann Maier and Stephen Eberharter.

Feuz would have needed a top-10 finish in Sunday's slalom, but he has never scored World Cup points in the discipline.

"This was my last race of the season," Feuz said after finishing 21st in the GS. "I've given everything I had but it was not enough."

Hirscher had already secured the GS title after the opening run, in which American rival Ted Ligety skied off course.

"To know that I had won that globe was a relief," Hirscher said. "It helped me to relax and have an attacking but clean second run."

Ligety, who won three GS titles in the past four seasons, trailed Hirscher by 92 points. With a victory worth 100 points, he had to win the race to stand a chance of overtaking the Austrian.

The American led by 0.43 seconds at the final intermediate time but skied off course. He hiked back up the hill to complete his run but finished 11.16 seconds off the lead.

"There was only one option today — winning or going home," Ligety said. "I tried everything so I can't blame myself."

Ligety had the fastest time in the second run but obviously his deficit was too big and he finished 25th.

Ligety won two GS races and led the standings early in the season, but had since been playing catch-up with Hirscher. Ligety added a third victory last weekend in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, to retain his slim chance.

"With the season he's had, he deserved to win the globe," he said. "For me it was a good year, it's just that someone else was better."

Hirscher won four GS races and nine events in total this season.

"What happened to Ted could have happened to me as well," said Hirscher, who won the event in 2 minutes, 25.52 seconds to lead an Austrian sweep.

Hannes Reichelt, who led after the first run, came 0.19 behind in second and Marcel Mathis was third, 0.55 behind.

Didier Cuche celebrated his retirement by wearing an outfit from the 1950s, including a backpack and wooden skis. The Swiss standout slid down the hill at a slow pace and stopped several times to greet and hug officials and coaches along the course.

It took him 5 minutes, 44 seconds to complete his run. After crossing the finish line, Cuche showed his trademark ski flip for a last time, cheered on by thousands of fans in the Planai stadium.

Since his World Cup debut in 1998, Cuche competed in 358 World Cup races. He won 21 events and was the season's downhill champion four times.

"Ski retiree sounds a bit weird but I will get used to it," Cuche said. "I believe it was the right decision."

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