Soelden, Austria – Three-time Audi FIS Alpine World Cup giant slalom champion Ted Ligety served notice on the field with an historic 2.75-second margin of victory in Sunday’s World Cup opener in Soelden for his 12th career win.
“I’m psyched,” said Ligety, of Park City, Utah. “I didn’t want to leave anything out there – I was hammering!”
Ligety mastered the controversial new GS skis (of which he was one of the most vocal critics), soft snow conditions, variable light and a raging blizzard to post one of the largest margins in alpine ski racing history.
“I knew I was skiing well. I’ve been skiing fast in training. I’ve been working really hard on these new skis to get to the point I knew I was going to be among the best,” Ligety said. “It was a tough day for everybody and I just fought and maybe took more risks and that was really smart. I can’t expect anything like this. This is a once in a career kind of margin and it was really a surprise to me.”
Ligety repeated as champion on the Rettenbach Glacier and marked his 12th career World Cup win and his sixth straight podium in Soelden with the biggest victory margin recorded in World Cup GS since Swedish ski racing legend Ingemar Stenmark recorded two separate margins of around four full seconds 34 years ago. Ligety’s 2.75 seconds also marked the seventh largest victory in World Cup giant slalom history, redeeming the U.S. Ski Team after the women’s squad disappointed on Saturday in Soelden.
Ligety was .04 behind France’s Thomas Fantara after the first run, skiing in near darkness with new snow alongside the track before the light came in and out for later racers. The second run was held in a near whiteout in a raging blizzard and Fantara was unable to match Ligety, finishing fourth behind Italy’s Manfred Moelgg and Marcel Hirscher of Austria.
“It’s a tough day today. In the first run starting early was a big disadvantage. That fired me up for the second run and gave me a lot of motivation because I knew I should have been leading and opened up a gap,” Ligety added. “But this is kind of an unbelievable gap. I was taking a ton of risk and fortunately it paid out. In hindsight it might not have been the smartest approach because it would have been easy to blow out at any point.”
“What Ted did today is a true testament to the hard work that he’s put in over the summer – really since last winter – working on the new skis, testing the new skis, modifying prototype after prototype, just putting in an extreme effort,” explained U.S. Ski Team Head Men’s Coach Sasha Rearick. “He also had a few weaknesses in his skiing that we really focused on this summer to make him more of a complete skier so that on any hill on any day he could execute the best skiing in the world. Today he did that.
“Ted’s arguments he had on the skis were his own opinions but a lot of people agreed. He’s a vocal person and that showed in his arguments against the skis,” Rearick added. “But once he figured out this is what it is, he put all that energy, all that focus into making sure he was going to be the fastest and that he wasn’t going to lose.”
Tim Jitloff, of Reno, Nev., finished eighth after the first run but dropped to 19th during the second run snowstorm. Canadian racers also had a tough time with the second run conditions, with veteran Jean-Philippe Roy, of Sainte-Flavie, Quebec, finishing 17th and and young gun Dustin Cook, of Lac-Sainte-Marie, Quebec, coming in 22nd. Their results nevertheless marked the first time since December 2009 that Canada placed two men in the top 30 at a World Cup men’s giant slalom.
“I’m very happy with today. It shows that we have some depth in giant slalom,” said Pete Bosinger, head coach of the Canadian men’s alpine team. “It was a big breakthrough for Dustin to finish in the top 30 and get some points. The conditions were extremely challenging – just because of the light. The track was in perfect condition but it was hard to ski with heavy snowfall and fog and the light was going in and out.”
Following today’s victory Ligety will remain in Europe to train for the World Cup slalom in Finland in two weeks, the speed team is congregating this week for the opening of the U.S. Ski Team Speed Center at Copper Mountain next Wednesday.
Audi FIS Alpine World Cup
Soelden, Austria – Oct. 28, 2012
Men’s Giant Slalom
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||FIS Points|
|7||27||191746||DE TESSIERES Gauthier||1981||FRA||1:19.86||1:19.89||2:39.75||21.28|