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Hirscher's successor? Kristoffersen wins Alta Badia GS

LA VILLA, Italy (AP) — With longtime rival Marcel Hirscher retired, things are looking up for Henrik Kristoffersen. The Norwegian skier surged up from sixth after the first run to win the vaunted Alta Badia giant slalom on Sunday and move top of both the GS and overall World Cup standings.

Kristoffersen finished 0.31 seconds ahead of surprise runner-up Cyprien Sarrazin of France, with Zan Kranjec of Slovenia third, 0.39 back. First-run leader Leif Kristian Nestvold-Haugen had a wild second trip down the steep Gran Risa course and finished 11th.

It was the 20th career World Cup victory and second this season for Kristoffersen, who also won the giant slalom at last season’s world championships in Are, Sweden, and claimed silver in the event at the 2018 Olympics.

Kristoffersen’s previous best finish in this race was second in 2015 and 2017, both times behind Hirscher. Hirscher also won the last eight overall titles and Kristoffersen is one of the top contenders to take the Austrian's crown.

In the overall standings, Kristoffersen moved 31 points ahead of Vincent Kriechmayr, the winner of Friday's super-G in nearby Val Garden, and 47 points ahead of French rival Alexis Pinturault, who dropped from third after the opening run to finish eighth.

Kristoffersen was asked how he deals with his new favorite status. “I don't really care," Kristoffersen said. "I just try to ski as fast as possible and try to win as many races as possible. First things have to come first. First you have to ski fast, then you can win races and then you can talk about all this other stuff. But I feel pretty good at the moment.”

Sarrazin had the fastest second run to move up 20 spots. Previously, Sarrazin had finished better than 10th only once, by winning a parallel giant slalom in Alta Badia three years ago. It was Kranjec’s third top-four finish in giant slalom this season after coming third in Soelden, Austria, and fourth in Beaver Creek, Colorado.

The top American finishers were Ryan Cochran-Siegle in 19th and Tommy Ford in 20th. Ford, coming off his first career win in Beaver Creek, made a big mistake at the beginning of his first run in blizzard-like conditions.

Ted Ligety, a two-time winner on the Gran Risa, misjudged an artificial jump toward the end of his opening run and missed the next gate. The course was shortened due to overnight snowfall. A parallel giant slalom night race is scheduled for Monday in Alta Badia.

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