Kjetil Jansrud was second, 0.
05 seconds adrift, but recognised his hopes of beating Hirscher to the big crystal globe were effectively over after the Austrian finished fourth in one of his rare appearances in the discipline.
“Out of respect for Marcel, I’m not going to say it’s over. But it is, even if I’m still theoretically in the race,” said the Norwegian, winner of the downhill and Super-G World Cups this winter.
With two races left at the finals, both in his favourite technical disciplines, Hirscher leads Jansrud by 34 points.
No male skier has ever won four overall World Cups in succession.
Everything will be decided in Saturday’s giant slalom since Jansrud has already said he will not take part in Sunday’s slalom as he has no chance of finishing in the top 15 and scoring points.
“It’s a better result than I ever expected. It takes a lot of pressure away from my shoulders,” said Hirscher, who had only once before obtained such a good result in Super-G.
“There are two more races to go but I’m very confident. Am I going to ski 100 percent in the next two races? I don’t know what to answer. But with the World Cup in mind I might be tempted to play it safe.”
While the best two skiers of the season focused on the overall honours, Cook seized his chance on the soft snow of Meribel. “I don’t know if it was a perfect run but it was good enough to win today. Last year I finished the season without a point. This year I win a race,” he said.
“I’ve finally realised what I was capable of doing,” added the Canadian, an unexpected silver-medallist in the discipline at the world championships in Beaver Creek last month.
(Reporting by Manuele Lang. Writing by Francois Thomazeau, editing by Alan Baldwin)