SOELDEN, Austria (Oct. 23 - Ski Racing Magazine News Service) - Ted Ligety methodically started the defense of his 2011 World Cup GS crown with the first win of the 2012 season Sunday (Oct 23) at Soelden, Austria and made the U.S. two for two on the weekend.
The winner of the Cup GS title in three of the last four seasons, Ligety took the first run lead ( by .18 seconds) then scorched the second heat to take the win away from French 20 year old Alexis Pinturault. It marked two wins in two days for the U.S. team coming on the heels of Lindsey Vonn's win in yesterday's GS on the same hill.
“I’ve been on the podium a bunch of times here so to finally win is definitely an added bonus," said Ligety, who owns three previous top-three finishes on the hill. "What Lindsey did yesterday was pretty cool, it’s crazy to think that it’s been 20 or so years that a U.S. woman has won a World Cup GS so for us both to get the top step here is cool.”
Austrian Philipp Schoerghofer got third .51 seconds off the winning pace as red flares filled the cloudless sky with smoke and semi truck powered air horns rang in the stands.
Ligety and the U.S. team have been training on the hill for the last two weeks, but The Park City, Utah native saved plenty for race day. “You never know what’s going to happen in a race obviously. I was skiing fast in training but that doesn’t really count for anything until you do it in a race,” said Ligety. “There is a lot more anxiety having it be the first race of the year and to win, especially against guys like that is awesome.”
American star Bode Miller contributed ninth place, marking the second time in two days the U.S. had put two skier in the top 10, Julia Mancuso having finished tenth on Saturday.
“Bode was frustrated with his first run of skiing, he didn’t ski very well on the pitch, but the second run I was really inspired by the 10 or so turns he linked up on the pitch," said U.S. men's head coach Sasha Rearick. "He was putting the ski on edge clean and keeping it in the fall line, it was awesome to watch. A great effort by him today.”
Defending overall champion and freshly named Skier d'Or Ivica Kostelic of Croatia rebounded from a medicore first run (18th) to hold the early lead in the second through the following 13 racers. He won the second run to finish fifth behind Swiss Carlo Janka, a sure indication he will contend again this season.
But on this October day it was Ligety in control. It was his ninth career World Cup win and his first at Soelden, but this is a hill he is comfortable with. It was his fourth consecutive podium result at the site. He becomes the third U.S. skier to win at Soelden, which was recently named the European home base for the U.S. Team through the next three years.
“The first run was actually pretty easy, one of the smoother Soelden runs I had had in a while,” said Ligety. “The second run was not so easy with it being in the dark and it was pretty chunky.”
It was a career high-tie for Pinturault, the two-time GS junior worlds champion proved he deserves a lower bib number than the 20 he wore today with his second career World Cup podium.
American Warner Nickerson just missed the second-run cut off in 32nd, 2.84 seconds behind the leader. Tim Jitloff landed 35, 3.25 seconds off the pace. Both Tommy Ford and Colby Grandstrom failed to finish the first run.
Jean-Philippe Roy, the only one of three Canadian starters to qualify for the second run, had a solid day in the 53 bib. He managed to grab the last second-run spot in the 30th position then jump up to 22nd on the day with the second fastest second-run time.
Men's World Cup Giant Slalom, Soelden, Austria, Oct. 23, 2011. ... It is the 29th World Cup race held at Soelden, all of them GS races. ... It is the opening race of the 2011-12 season for the men. ... It is the first of nine GS's on the men's schedule and first of 46 men's events including two “city parallel” events and a parallel at Finals. ... Last season's men's race at Soelden was canceled due to visibility.
It is the ninth career World Cup win for Ted Ligety, all in GS. ... It is his first win and fourth podium at Soelden. ... It is the 225th US World Cup win and second this season in two races.
It is the second career podium in five completed Cup races for Alexis Pinturault. ... He was also second March 5 at Kransjka Gora (to Carlo Janka). ... He is a two time World Junior GS champion.
It is the third career World Cup podium for Philipp Schoerghofer, all in GS. ... He won at Hinterstoder last season and was third in Garmisch March 12, 2010.
It is the 146th time Bode Miller has placed in the top 10 of a World Cup race. ... the 37th time in GS. ... He has been top 10 at Soelden in all eight of his results at the site. ... It is the 31st career World Cup scoring finish for Jean-Philippe Roy. ... the 24th in GS and the sixth time at Soelden. ... It is his second best Soelden result after a ninth scored Oct. 25, 2009.
Austria leads the Nations Cup 326-268 over France which had five racers score (Pinurault, Thomas Fanara, Steve Missillier, Gauthier DeTessieres and Cyprien Richard). ... The U.S. is third with 255pts. ... Canada sits 11th with 15pts.
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