Ligety rallies to win World Cup giant slalom
December 6, 2011
BEAVER CREEK, Colo. – Ted Ligety turned in a blazing second run in frigid conditions to capture a World Cup giant slalom on Tuesday.
The three-time overall GS champion flew down the challenging Birds of Prey course in a combined time of 2 minutes, 40.01 seconds, beating Marcel Hirscher of Austria by 0.69 seconds. Kjetil Jansrud of Norway was third.
Ligety entered the final run trailing France’s Alexis Pinturault by 0.14 seconds. But Ligety easily made up the time to win his 10th World Cup race. Pinturault made an early mistake and never recovered, settling for fourth.
The one-two finish was a reverse of Sunday’s giant slalom on this hill when Hirscher won and Ligety finished second. Immediately after that race, Ligety went back and watched film of Hirscher’s run, just to figure out how he glided down so fast.
Ligety then followed suit with a blistering final trip down the hill.
When he crossed the finish line and saw his time, Ligety pumped his fist and sent a cloud of snow flying into the air with a sudden stop.
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“I’m glad to come down and get some redemption,” Ligety said.
Tim Jitloff of the U.S. finished tied for 10th, while Tommy Ford wound up 15th. Bode Miller never found his groove on the course and was 29th.
“Tough to find my speed,” Miller said after his first run. “It’s tough snow conditions. If you push harder, sometimes you go slower. It’s so grippy and so aggressive that I was trying to be more gentle.”
Miller skiing gentle? That hardly ever happens. He usually adopts a go-for-broke approach on the slopes, punching the accelerator far more than tapping the brakes. But he’s also still experimenting with his GS setup as he searches for just the right combination.
The grippy nature of the course baffled Miller on Sunday and again Tuesday.
“I’m obviously much better on the harder, more icy stuff,” Miller said. “I didn’t really have any big mistakes (in the first run), just a couple of little bobbles.”
This race was moved to Beaver Creek because of a lack of snow in Val d’Isere, France. There’s also a women’s super G on Wednesday – a homecoming for Lindsey Vonn who lives in nearby Vail – and a men’s slalom on Thursday.
Vonn is looking forward to her first race on this difficult course. She’s never won a World Cup event on U.S. slopes.
“I’m hoping to change that,” said Vonn, who was planning to ski the course Tuesday after the final run of giant slalom. “I’ve always wanted to race here. This is finally my chance.”