Ted Ligety shreds his way through a blizzard en route to one of the largest margins of victory in history, winning the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup opener in Soelden by 2.75 seconds. (Getty Images/Agence Zoom-Alain Grosclaude)
SOELDEN, Austria (Oct. 28) - Three-time Audi FIS Alpine World Cup giant slalom champion Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) served notice on the field with an historic 2.75-second margin of victory in the World Cup opener in Soelden for his 12th career win. Ligety mastered the controversial new GS skis, soft snow conditions, variable light and a raging blizzard to post one of the largest margins in the sport's history. He repeated as champion on the Rettenbach Glacier and marked his sixth straight podium in Soelden. It was the biggest victory margin in World Cup GS in 34 years. While Ligety will remain in Europe to train for the World Cup slalom in Finland in two weeks, the speed team is congregating this week for the opening of the U.S. Ski Team Speed Center at Copper Mountain next Wednesday.
Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) powered through a raging blizzard to move up from second in the first run to win the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup opening giant slalom in Soelden by an historic 2.75 seconds.
It was Ligety's 12th career World Cup win and sixth straight podium in Soelden, doubling up after last year's opening victory.
Ligety was .04 behind France's Thomas Fantara after the first run with Fantara unable to match Ligety, finishing fourth.
After Ligety skied in near darkness in the first run, light came in and out on the course that was ragged with new snow alongside the track. The second run was run in a near whiteout with a raging blizzard.
Ligety's 2.75-second margin was the seventh greatest of all time in GS but the first of that magnitude in 34 years when the legendary Swede Ingemark Stenmark posted two separate margins of around four seconds.
Tim Jitloff (Reno, NV) was 8th after the first run but dropped to 19th.
Ligety will remain in the Team's training base at Soelden to train for the upcoming World Cup slalom in Finland while the speed skiers gather in Colorado for the opening of the U.S. Ski Team Speed Center at Copper Mountain next Wednesday.
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QUOTES Ted Ligety I'm psyched. I didn't want to leave anything out there - I was hammering!
I knew I was skiing well. I've been skiing fast in training. I've been working really hard on these new skis to get to the point I knew I was going to be among the best.
It was a tough day for everybody and I just fought and maybe took more risks and that was really smart.
I can't expect anything like this. This is a once in a career kind of margin and it was really a surprise to me.
It's a tough day today. In the first run starting early was a big disadvantage. That fired me up for the second run and gave me a lot of motivation because I knew I should have been leading and opened up a gap. But this is kind of an unbelievable gap. I was taking a ton of risk and fortunately it paid out. In hindsight it might not have been the smartest approach because it would have been easy to blow out at any point.
Sasha Rearick, Head Men's Coach What Ted did today is a true testament to the hard work that he's put in over the summer - really since last winter - working on the new skis, testing the new skis, modifying prototype after prototype, just putting in an extreme effort. He also had a few weaknesses in his skiing that we really focused on this summer to make him more of a complete skier so that on any hill on any day he could execute the best skiing in the world. Today he did that.
That was an impressive execution - complete ability and confidence in himself. We often talk about how you work hard, you train hard so that you can trust yourself. Today he did that. He couldn't see the track but he trusted that the track was good and he was going to be able to ride a clean ski from top to bottom. You only gain that trust and confidence in yourself when you put in day after day of hard work.
Ted's arguments he had on the skis were his own opinions but a lot of people agreed. He's a vocal person and that showed in his arguments against the skis. But once he figured out this is what it is, he put all that energy, all that focus into making sure he was going to be the fastest and that he wasn't going to lose.
The key now is he's won by 2.75 - he put the rest of the world in the tank. But we can't rest. What do we need to do now? The rest of those guys also hate to lose. They're going to work extremely hard over the next month until the next race in Beaver Creek. It won't be easy next month.