Marcel Hirscher lands Giant Slalom gold after plane incident in St. Moritz

Marcel Hirscher lands Giant Slalom gold after plane incident in St. Moritz

Austria's Marcel Hirscher took gold in the Giant Slalom at the 2017 Ski World Championships

Tom Hiscott

Marcel Hirscher produced two masterful runs on his way to gold in the Giant Slalom at 2017 Alpine World Ski Championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland

Hirscher posted the fastest time in the first run, before holding off a strong attack from teammate Roland Leitinger by 0.25 seconds to lead home an Austrian 1-2.

Leif Kristian Haugen also excelled in the second run to claim bronze ahead of his own teammate Henrik Kristoffersen who finished 0.05 seconds outside of the medals in fourth. 

This was Hirscher's fifth world championship gold, but his first in the Giant Slalom, with three-time defending champion Ted Ligety unable to defend his title due to injury. 

The medal winners (image source: Hans Bezard/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)

Austrians lead the way after first run, with top five all in striking distance

It was Hirscher who had built a promising lead after the first run, putting down the fastest time ahead of his Austrian teammate Philipp Schörghofer by 0.26 seconds.

However there were plenty of other riders who will have been content with their first efforts, namely Alexis Pinturault, Matts Olsson and Kristoffersen who were all within half a second of the lead. 

Germany's Felix Neureuther had a disappointing run to finish 1.74 seconds behind Hirscher, all but ending his hopes of a medal, while Carlo Janka from the host country was down in 16th at the halfway point. 

Hirscher copes with pressure applied by Leitinger to claim maiden GS gold

The second run of the competition was delayed by 30 minutes, after a fly-over by the Swiss military saw one of the aircraft catch a wire attached to a camera which fell close to the finish line. 

Fortunately the incident passed without injury and racing got back underway after a short delay, which allowed for the conditions to get gradually worse with the visibility deteriorating somewhat.

With the Austrian coaches setting the gates for the afternoon run, Hirscher was favourite to hold onto gold, yet it was his teammate Roland Leitinger who made the biggest jump in the second run. 

Laying down a solid marker, Leitinger's time proved too much for Kristoffersen, Olsson and Pinturault who all dropped below him, with the second-placed skier from the first run Philipp Schörghofer also failing to deal with the pressure.

Marcel Hirscher in action (image source: Giovanni Auletta/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)

That left Hirscher as the only man between Leitinger and gold. Starting with a 0.53 second lead over his teammate, Hirscher extended his advantage during the early part of the course before coming back to Leitinger, but he had enough in the tank to hold on to win gold by 0.25 seconds. 

Saturday sees the women's Slalom, before Hirscher and Kristoffersen return to take part in the men's Slalom on Sunday.