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Hirscher delivers gold for Austria

AFP-JIJI

Austrian star Marcel Hirscher lived up to the expectations of the medal-hungry public in this ski-mad country by winning the men’s world slalom in dramatic fashion on Sunday.

In what was a perfectly choreographed finish to the two-week world ski championships, Hirscher followed up his leading first run with a dramatic dash down the second in a tightly fought competition.

The 23-year-old timed an aggregate of 1 minute, 51.03 seconds — 0.42 ahead of Germany’s Felix Neureuther, with another Austrian, former two-time world champion Mario Matt, claiming bronze at 0.65.

Hirscher’s victory handed Austria a first individual gold medal, and the 40,000-strong roaring crowd packed around the cramped finish area welcomed their new champion in deafening, cowbell-ringing and horn-blowing acclaim.

“It was very difficult,” said Hirscher. “It was fierce. What can I say, it’s great!

“The atmosphere was sensational, it was great. But I was so focused and just tried not to make a mess. It was anything but easy.”