LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland (AP) — Marcel Hirscher clinched his third straight overall World Cup title on Saturday but couldn’t prevent Ted Ligety from winning his fifth season-long giant slalom trophy.
Needing 19 points to overtake Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway, Austria’s Hirscher scored 50 by placing fourth in the season’s last GS race at the World Cup Finals.
Hirscher completed Austria’s first overall title double since 2002, after Anna Fenninger clinched the women’s title this week.
He is the first man to win three straight overall titles since American Phil Mahre completed the feat in 1983.
Still, Ligety seized his chance to take the discipline title by winning the race by just 0.03 seconds to tie Hirscher on points.
The American Olympic champion in GS got the Worlds Cup title on a tiebreaker with five race wins this season against Hirscher’s two.
“I’m super-thrilled. That was by the skin of my teeth today,” Ligety said.
Ligety had a two-run combined time of 2 minutes, 15.63 seconds, edging runner-up Alexis Pinturault of France. Felix Neureuther of Germany was third.
Svindal led the overall standings going into the race but skied out in the first run.
The big Norwegian had all but conceded the overall title to Hirscher earlier in the week but the Austrian champion still had to complete one of his final two races.
An intense race Saturday came down to mere hundredths of seconds which all fell Ligety’s way.
Ligety, the Olympic champion in GS, was second-fastest in the morning and had time in the start house to absorb the second-leg target set by Hirscher.
Hirscher fell outside provisional leader Pinturault’s time, leaving Ligety an opening.
The 29-year-old American came down just 0.03 faster than Pinturault’s time, drawing applause from Hirscher who already knew he was overall champion.
Ligety then needed his good friend Neureuther, the first-run leader, to finish in the narrow time window between himself and Hirscher to secure second or third.
Neureuther did it in the tightest way possible, finishing 0.01 ahead of Hirscher, who was relegated to fourth.
“Felix, I owe a lot of beers,” Ligety said. “That’s a super tight race.”
Ligety completed a race victory double for the U.S. team Saturday, with Mikaela Shiffrin earlier winning her fifth World Cup slalom this season.