Ligety storms to giant slalom gold
Fri, 18 Feb 14:06:00 2011
Ted Ligety claimed his due as the best giant slalom specialist around when he won the world title.
The American, winner of the discipline's World Cup in 2008 and last year, crowned years of consistent giant-slalom performances with the title, winning in a combined time of two minutes and 10.56 seconds on the Kandahar course.
Fourth after the first run, the skier from Salt Lake City added a second gold medal to his collection after the one for the combined he won at the Turin Olympics in 2006.
Ligety, 26, won the first three giant slaloms held this winter to lead the speciality's World Cup standings.
"Obviously the Olympic gold means more to me because there was a notion of surprise whereas I won three GS's this season and even though I didn't rate myself as the favourite not making the podium would have been a bit bizarre," Ligety said.
The world-title race reflected the season's hierarchy as the two other skiers to have won giant slaloms this season were on the podium.
Late-blooming Frenchman Cyprien Richard, winner of his maiden World Cup race in Adelboden last month, took the silver medal, 0.08 seconds behind.
Bronze went to Austrian Philipp Shoerghofer, who took advantage of the absence through injury of team mates Marcel Hirscher, Benjamin Raich and Hannes Reichelt and finished 0.43 seconds adrift. He had won the last World Cup giant slalom before the worlds in Hinterstoder.
Ligety GS leg 2
Ligety said the 31-year-old Richard was his most serious rival, adding: "Hats off to Cyprien who has given me a hard time not only today, but since the start of the season."
France had already won the team event and a women's giant slalom bronze medal with Tessa Worley on Thursday.
"To win this silver medal after Tessa yesterday and the team event, each time in a different metal, is just unbelievable," said Richard, whose early career was marred by health problems.
Super-combined world champion Aksel-Lund Svindal of Norway, who was fastest in the morning leg, unexpectedly faltered in the afternoon to finish fourth, missing the podium by 0.06 seconds.
Olympic and defending world champion Carlo Janka had to settle for seventh place, 0.92 off the pace.
Bode Miller, who won the giant slalom world crown in 2003, will leave Garmisch without a medal having said he would not take part in the final day's slalom because of back problems.
The American was as unpredictable as ever on Friday, finishing 12th because of a huge mistake in the first run yet clocking the fastest second-leg time.
"Bode was fastest in the second leg in Hinterstoder and again here," said Ligety.
"It's nice to have someone like him pushing you and it's also great to have him starting early in the second leg because he gave me precious info on the course."
Asked if it was Miller's last big medal race, Ligety added: "I don't think so, I think he still enjoys skiing a lot, unless you know more than I do."
Ligety can still do more to now emulate his compatriot by going for the overall World Cup title.
"That's definitely a goal. I think I've become a better all round skier," he said.Reuters