SOELDEN, Austria (Oct. 27) - Four-time World Cup giant slalom champion Ted Ligety picked up right where he left off his scorching 2012-13 season.
Ligety pulled out a historic win at the Soelden, Austria, giant slalom race on Sunday, as he became the first man to win three World Cup GS races in a row on the Soelden course.
He beat out Frenchman Alexis Pinturault by 0.79 seconds for his 18th victory to open the Olympic season.
“It feels good. I was definitely a little anxious coming into this race just because you never really know how you stand,” said Ligety, who has recorded a podium finish in nine consecutive GS races. “In training last year I was winning by a second and a half versus everybody, and this time I was getting beat in training sometimes, so it’s good to know that you’re actually still fast.”
Two-time overall champion Bode Miller skied into the top-20 in. his first World Cup race since February 2012. Teammate Tim Jitloff, a Truckee High grad, finished 20th, right behind Miller. Jitloff ran toe-to-toe with Ligety in training.
The course was drenched in sun and became slushy during the first run, but high winds, bumps and variable light made for a more difficult second run. The start was lowered by 10 gates for both runs due to the high winds.
“It was disappointing skiing today,” Miller said. “It’s not where I’ve been skiing the last weeks and obviously not where I want to start out. I didn’t really come in with much of a goal. I wanted to obviously finish and see where I stacked up. I was hoping to ski similar to how I skied in training. That’s always my goal. But you know, sometimes it doesn’t happen.”
SHIFFRIN LEADS U.S. WOMEN
Mikaela Shiffrin finished sixth to lead the American contingent in the Soelden giant slalom on Saturday, while Julia Mancuso of Squaw Valley finished 27th in the season opener.
Switzerland’s Lara Gut took the win winning by a .84 second margin — her first World Cup GS victory — despite a huge mistake on the steeps.
“Of course I’m hungry for more,” said Shiffrin, whose sixth-place finish was a career best in GS. “But those girls skied really well out there today, so I enjoyed watching some good skiing and I felt like I skied well myself. I just feel like the sky is the limit and my GS is a lot better than last year.”
Shiffrin produced a fearless first run and sat in fifth going into the final, where she laid down a strong performance on the tough steep section but lost significant time on the flat, gliding section coming into the finish. She and Mancuso were the only U.S. women to ski the final run.
“I think everything is going in the right direction. I’ve had good days training,” Mancuso said. “I learned it’s really important to be 100 percent committed on this steep hill. Second run was better in sections. I would rather have fast sections and make mistakes than the first run when it was mostly just slow.”
Next up on the World Cup circuit is a men’s and women’s slalom race in Levi, Finland, on Nov. 16-17.