ARE, Sweden (Reuters) - World Cup champion Marcel Hirscher of Austria shook off his recent poor form to win his second giant slalom of the season in Are on Friday.
Beaten in his last three World Cup outings, Hirscher eclipsed his rivals in the floodlit race with the fastest times in both runs for a combined two minutes 30.18 seconds.
Unfazed by the races being moved from Val d’Isere – where he had won for three seasons in a row - to Sweden, Hirscher beat Olympic and world champion Ted Ligety by a 1.22 seconds.
American Ligety, who won in Beaver Creek a week ago, was 0.28 ahead of third-placed German Stefan Luitz.
“Apart from a little something near the end, I skied a flawless first leg,“ said Hirscher, who won the season opener in Soelden. ”It’s going better and better each day. I can see I’m improving.”
World Cup leader Kjetil Jansrud of Norway failed to finish the morning run and saw his overall lead over Hirscher trimmed to 72 points.
Slovenia’s Tina Maze again proved her versatility in the women’s giant slalom with her third win of the season, all in different disciplines.
She clocked a combined time of two minutes 23.84 seconds for her 26th career victory, ending a streak of six giant slalom wins for the Austrian women’s team.
Giant slalom Olympic champion Maze, winner of a slalom in Levi last month and a downhill in Lake Louise last week, had to overcome jet lag to triumph.
“I’m very surprised to have skied such a run coming up from Canada. Yesterday I was still like walking around in my sleep,” said Maze, the only skier taking part in all World Cup races.
The 2013 World Cup winner was seventh after the morning run and, despite a big mistake in the second leg, still managed to edge second-placed Sara Hector of Sweden by 0.20 seconds.
Austria’s Eva-Marie Brem, the surprise winner of the Aspen giant slalom two weeks ago, was third, 0.28 adrift.
Maze has a solid 177 points overall lead ahead of World Cup holder Anna Fenninger of Austria, who could only manage sixth place in Are, 0.37 behind the Slovenian.
Reporting by Manuele Lang; editing by Ken Ferris