Alpine

Ligety Wins Gold at World Champs

by
USSA
2015-02-13 17:33
 

VAIL/BEAVER CREEK, CO (Feb. 13. 2015)—With only a few days left in the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, spring-like temperatures and a slick, fast course made for a men’s giant slalom to remember. When it was all said and done, Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) won the event in historic and thrilling fashion in front of the home crowd. Rounding out the giant slalom podium were Austria’s Marcel Hirscher and France’s Alexis Pinturault in second and third, respectively.

The GS at the World Championships is known as the most technical of all the disciplines, and this year’s event was rife with drama. Prior to Friday morning’s first run, experts were calling this a three-man race. Giant slalom is Ligety’s specialty and he has dominated it for more than half a decade, but Hirscher and Pinturault had joined Ligety as odds-on favorites to compete for the GS gold medal.

Despite Ligety’s indisputable supremacy in giant slalom for years, Hirscher came into the World Championships hot and ranked number one in the World Cup standings—having won four GS races this year to Ligety’s one victory. And after first run, Hirscher was sitting pretty, having laid down a first-place gem that gave the remaining 100 skiers a time to shoot for. 

Ligety, or America’s “Mr. GS,” wore bib number 6, and finished 0.24 off Hirscher’s time with a more cautious first run. He railed turns up high, but got stuck on a low line towards the bottom of the run, scrubbing speed. But, Ligety went into the second run in the afternoon with Hirscher in his sights.

“Conditions are great, and the course is in great shape. So, we’ll see,” said Ligety in between runs. “There are five guys within 24 hundredths of a second, so it’ll be a tight one next run.”


Ted Ligety skis first run, finishing in fifth place, before taking the overall win. (Getty Images-Agence Zoom/Christophe Pallot)

The second run began with temperatures hovering in the mid-40s. The warm weather made for a softer, more rip-able track than the slick morning surface. With nine competitors within a second of Marcel Hirscher, the GS title was up for grabs.

The level of skiing was off-the-charts throughout the second runs of giant slalom, including great runs by Americans Tim Jitloff (Reno, NV), David Chodousky (Crested Butte, CO), Brennan Rubie (Salt Lake City, UT), and Tommy Ford (Bend, OR).

The excitement amped up in Red Tail Stadium as soon as Ligety’s start neared. And as it was a turnier course than the morning, it was a perfect course for him to shred. The pressure was on to perform in front of thousands of American fans in the finish stadium and lining the course.

Ligety stepped up and showed that he still is the best giant slalom skier in the world. The American skied fluidly through his second run. Railing turns on-edge, he milked speed out of every transition and put together a perfect run. As he crossed the finish line, Ligety’s time was 1.23 seconds ahead of the field. The crowd went wild and Ligety pumped his fists, but four of the best GS skiers in the world were still to ski.

Pinturault followed Ligety down the course, skiing well but ending 0.88 slower than Ligety to take third place. Hirscher, the last skier to compete after his first run win, put together another solid attempt on his second run. But in the end, Ligety’s time was 0.45 seconds faster than his Austrian rival and Ligety yelled in celebration, javelining his skis through the finish.


Ted Ligety sprays champagne at the crowd after the medal ceremony. (Getty Images-Agence Zoom/Christophe Pallot)

In winning the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships’ giant slalom at Vail/Beaver Creek, Ligety earned his fifth consecutive GS win in a row on the fabled Birds of Prey terrain and became the first man ever to win three World Championships GS races in a row.

“It’s hard to rank them, but this win is a little more emotional that some of the other ones just because this year has been a little more of a struggle,” said Ligety, of his Birds of Prey domination. “To be able to come through and pull it off is awesome.”

All of the U.S. men finished in the top 30. Tim Jitloff broke into the top 10 with a ninth place result. Tommy Ford, who had to sit out the entire 2014 Olympic season to recover from a freeskiing crash in 2013, took 19th. Brennan Rubie was 26th, his second ever World Cup-level finish, and David Chodounsky was 29th.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Today’s gold medal was Ligety’s seventh World Championship medal.
  • This is Ligety’s fifth consecutive win in GS at Beaver Creek.
  • Ligety has won the overall World Cup GS title five times—’08, ’10, ’11, ’13, ’14.
  • Back in December, Ligety crushed Birds of Prey with an impressive come-from-behind win ahead of Pinturault and Hirscher.
  • Ligety won an unprecedented three gold medals at the last World Championships in Schladming, Austria, a feat that ski racing hadn’t seen for 45 years.
  • Next up, the women race slalom on Friday, headlined by Mikaela Shiffrin (Vail, CO). Universal Sports Network will air the first run live at 12:00 p.m. EST. NBC will air the race at 4:30 p.m. EST.

QUOTES
Ted Ligety
It’s an arc-er’s show. You have to be really clean on that edge all the way down. I love racing in the U.S. It's a real anomaly for us to race in the United States. We’re always in Europe, so just having that extra comfort level of being closer to home and having the friends and family supporting you here is huge.

It’s hard to rank them, but this win is a little more emotional that some of the other ones just because this year has been a little more of a struggle. In 2013, I was winning everything, so I felt like I should have it really easily. Same with the Olympics. I was skiing great before that and knew I should be able to win it. This one was a bigger question mark as far as how I was skiing and how I could handle it. To be able to come through and pull it off is awesome.

Watch Ted Ligety's winning run at the World Championships. 

Tim Jitloff
It was a solid day. I think it’s been consistent with my results all season. I definitely wanted a little more out of that second run. Unfortunately I just had a few little things that slowed me down and I couldn’t come in with a green light today. But I put up a good effort. I’m proud that Ted was able to do it today; it’s awesome. It’s great for the people here. They’ve been waiting for it and it’s something that I aspire to. With how I’ve been skiing and my results, I’m hoping at some point I will be joining him on the podium here.

I’m proud to be here, proud to be an American and skiing in front of the home crowd. I had a great time.

RESULTS
Men's World Championships GS results

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