Ted Ligety races to fifth place at the Soelden World Cup giant slalom. (Getty Images/Agence Zoom-Alexis Boichard)
SOELDEN, Austria (Oct. 23, 2016) – Four-time Soelden winner Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) returned from injury to take fifth place at the Audi FIS Ski World Cup opener giant slalom.
Alexis Pinturault of France was unstoppable, never giving up his lead to win by .70 seconds. Austrian Marcel Hirscher threw down a spectacular second run and even after hipping out, grabbed second. Felix Neureuther of Germany was third.
The track was perfect in the morning with hero snow and good visibility. However, it began to cloud over during second run, hinting of an impending storm. But it didn’t affect Ligety, who loved the turny second run set and got lucky with light. Starting in the middle of the pack after finishing 14th first run, he was a little behind the clock on the top section, but nailed the transition to the flatter section to generate speed to the finish. He came down in the lead and held on to take fifth overall.
It was Ligety’s first race back after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury in his right knee last season. Ligety has been the king of Soelden in the past, with four wins and seven podiums in the 10 times he’s raced the hill.
Ted Ligety stands in the Soelden start gate. (Getty Images/Agence Zoom-Michel Cottin)
“I’m pretty happy with fifth place for my first race back,” said Ligety, who was the defending champion on the track. “I haven’t had any speed in training, so it’s the first step back I was attacking a little more second run. I was a little lucky with the light, so that helped me more than some other guys. I’m happy to get fifth place. It’s a good first start.
Ligety added that he feels strong and will be training hard until his next race—the super G in Lake Louise. “I feel good,” said Ligety. “My body feels fine. I just don’t have the high-intensity, high-speed miles in yet. I need to get there.”
Tim Jitloff (Reno, NV) was the only other U.S. man to qualify for second run, but he went down on his hip on the pitch and did not finish.
David Chodounsky (Crested Butte, CO), Ryan Cochran-Siegle (Starksboro, VT), Brennan Rubie (Salt Lake City, UT), Tommy Ford (Bend, OR) and Kieffer Christianson (Anchorage, AK) did not qualify for a second run.
Watch the replay of the Soelden GS on NBCSN on Sunday night at 9:30 p.m. ET. Next up, the men head to Levi, Finland for a slalom on Nov. 13.
After taking 14th first run, Ted Ligety finished fifth overall in the Soelden World Cup giant slalom.
Ligety had the third-fastest second run.
In all 10 of the Soelden World Cups Ligety has raced, he has finished in the top 10.
Tim Jitloff qualified for second run, but did not finish.
The men’s Soelden GS will air on NBCSN at 9:30 p.m. ET on Sunday night.
The tech men next head to Levi, Finland for a slalom on Nov. 13.
Ted Ligety I’m pretty happy with fifth place for my first race back. I haven’t had any speed in training, so it’s the first step back that I was attacking a little more second run. I was a little lucky with the light, so that helped me more than some other guys. I’m happy to get fifth place. It’s a good first start.
I feel good. My body feels fine. I just don’t have the high-intensity, high-speed miles in yet. I need to get there. Luckily I have a little while until the Lake Louise super G.
Tim Jitloff I came in with quite a bit of heat into the first pitch and went too direct there. I got late, lost some time and tried to make up for it on the pitch and tried to be pretty aggressive. I think I just booted out on the left-footed turn and went onto my hip. There was nothing I could do—once I was gone, I was gone. It was unfortunate. This place is a bit tough. I’ve never really had a great deal of luck here. I’m not going to sweat it; we have a lot of season left. Next event for me is the GS in Beaver Creek.