- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 19, 2014

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) - Marcel Hirscher now knows what anguish Aksel Lund Svindal felt at the Sochi Olympics.

The two top stars of the men’s Alpine World Cup season are falling short of the Olympic medals they were expected to get.

Hirscher finished a surprising fourth in the giant slalom Wednesday won by pre-race favorite Ted Ligety of the United States.

The 24-year-old Austria team leader missed a giant slalom podium for only the second time in 21 races.

“Right now I’m really (ticked) off, for sure, because it was maybe my biggest chance for a medal in my whole career,” said Hirscher, who took silver in GS behind Ligety at the 2013 world championships.

Last week, Norway’s Svindal was favorite for the downhill but placed fourth, 0.19 seconds from a medal, in a race won by Austrian Matthias Mayer.

Hirscher was 0.30 out of the medals Wednesday when repeating his GS result from the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

“I mean, what can I tell you?” said Hirscher, praising Ligety as “just brilliant. The best has won today. It is for sure disappointing (for me) and, on the other side, yeah, I’m not far away.”

Except Hirscher has a habit of hitting his targets.

The two-time defending overall World Cup champion also leads this season’s standings from Svindal.

At the 2013 worlds, he fulfilled his favorite’s tag in slalom after being runner-up to Ligety in the American’s best event.

Those results helped make Hirscher a consensus pick for a first Olympic medal.

“Yeah, I’m the first loser, that’s as well not bad,” said Hirscher, who seemed unsuited to the relatively flat giant slalom course.

Still, he remains the man to beat in Saturday’s slalom, which is run under floodlights on a much steeper adjoining course.

“Yeah, I have to think about it and see what is next,” said Hirscher. “But the feeling is not very (good).”



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