Hirscher leads 1st run of Bormio evening slalom

ANDREW DAMPF AP Sports Writer Published:

BORMIO, Italy (AP) -- Defending overall World Cup champion Marcel Hirscher held a narrow lead over German rival Felix Neureuther after the opening run of an evening slalom on Monday.

Seeking his fourth win of the season, Hirscher clocked 1 minute, 0.25 seconds down the Stelvio course. Neureuther finished 0.01 seconds behind and Mattias Hargin of Sweden was third, 0.13 behind.

The first run was held at twilight, with the second to be raced under the lights.

The race was moved from Zagreb due to a lack of snow in Croatia.

The course was about five or six seconds longer than most slaloms, and Hirscher gained a huge chunk of time on the last gates of a steep finishing pitch.

Neureuther was 0.32 ahead of Hirscher at the second of two splits but then lost his lead.

"It's a little long and it's very turny but it's not a very challenging course," Hirscher said. "The terrain is too easy to create big gaps."

Hirscher is looking to make up ground on overall leader Aksel Lund Svindal, who doesn't often race slalom and is sitting this race out. Svindal leads Hirscher by 195 points, with wins worth 100 points each. American giant slalom specialist Ted Ligety is third overall, 301 points behind Svindal.

Ligety was 14th, 1.60 back.

"I skied relatively well in sections, I just made some mistakes here and there," Ligety said. "And this hill is so flat you definitely pay on those little mistakes."

Ligety recently returned to Europe from a mid-season break back home in Park City, Utah.

"You don't even really get recovered from jet lag when you're only home for four days," he said. "But it was nice to be home and see friends and family."

Neureuther has five career wins, including three last season but is seeking his first of this campaign.

Hargin's best career finish was second in a slalom in Val d'Isere, France, last season.

Markus Larsson of Sweden and Alexis Pinturault of France were disqualified for straddling gates.

After Bormio, the men's circuit goes to Adelboden, Switzerland, for a giant slalom and slalom next weekend.

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