Ligety causes stir on Twitter with conspiracy theory on Soelden cancelation
SOELDEN, Austria — Marcel Hirscher wasn’t the only one sitting out the first World Cup giant slalom of the season on Sunday, Oct. 29.
After examining a forecast that promised nasty weather, organizers canceled the race altogether.
Organizers said they called off the giant slalom “with the updated forecast, due to the wind conditions and in the interest of safety for teams and public.”
The race, which will not be rescheduled, had been in doubt since gale-force storms and snowfall had been predicted for the Rettenbach glacier on Sunday.
High winds knocked down trees and caused widespread travel chaos across much of Central Europe, leaving five people dead and several injured. Storm Herwart, whose gusts reached 112 mph, also caused electricity blackouts in hundreds of thousands of homes in the Czech Republic, Austria and other countries. A Lufthansa flight from Houston to Frankfurt made an emergency landing early Sunday in the southwestern German city of Stuttgart, which is about 160 miles from Soelden, as the crow flies.
LIGETY: ‘IT SMELLS FISHY’
American Ted Ligety caused a bit of a stir on Twitter when he suggested something “smells fishy” regarding the cancellation.
“Seems odd to have a race cancelled at 645am in Austria when their biggest star is temporarily out,” Ligety tweeted, in reference to Hirscher, who won the World Cup overall title in 2017 but is currently sidelined with an ankle injury.
“It may be horrible weather up there but when the president of the (Austrian Ski Association) is telling people it will be cancelled days in advance it smells fishy,” Ligety continued.
In replies to his tweets, Ligety was accused of bad sportsmanship and the perpetuation of conspiracy theories.
“Take off your tinfoil hat and look at the destruction around,” replied one person.
“Representing USA, I would say that you should tone down the conspiracy theories,” another said.
It didn’t take long for political undertones to surface.
“Seems to be becoming a national pastime for Americans to shout fake news,” read one comment.
“Same behavior as (President Donald Trump) always the victim,” read another.
Ligety responded by saying that normally there is a jury inspection before races are canceled and that did not happen on Sunday, and the gondola was also running at the resort, which is uncommon in cases of high winds.
While the responses were mostly unfavorable of Ligety’s remarks, some did come to his defense.
“Bit odd the gondolas were still running though, normally it’s a complete shut down,” one respondent said.
“You are absolutely right,” another said.
In between the arguments, Ligety made mention that the Soelden glacier “has been awesome skiing and training the last 2 weeks.”
The start of the women’s race on the same hill on Saturday had to be lowered because of fierce winds.
The next World Cup events are slaloms in Levi, Finland, with the women racing on Nov. 11, followed by the men the next day.
— The Associated Press reporter Kirsten Grieshaber contributed to this report