Sunday, December 5, 2010
Ted Ligety wins giant slalom
BEAVER CREEK, Colo. -- In the lead, Ted Ligety let it loose.
No holding anything back on this run.
The U.S. skier attacked the exhausting Birds of Prey course with a go-for-broke mentality that was straight out of the Bode Miller school of skiing.
And like it has so many times for Miller, the strategy worked for Ligety when he won a World Cup giant slalom, edging Norway's Kjetil Jansrud by 0.82 seconds Sunday. Marcel Hirscher of Austria wound up third.
So close to winning in the past on the closest thing the Americans have to a home hill, Ligety wasn't about to settle for safe. He turned in two nearly flawless runs, including a hard-charging final descent.
"I didn't want to hold back," said Ligety, who has finished no worse than fourth in the GS at Beaver Creek since 2006. "I was just thinking I'd rather blow out having the lead than come down and feel like I choked. I was going hard and I was lucky to make it without any mistakes."
Did he adopt Miller's mantra on that last run?
"I don't know if it's a Bode attitude as much as it's an 'I-really-want-to-win-this' attitude," Ligety said. "I just knew I had to ski hard."
Jansrud figured he had his first World Cup win after a fast final run, only to be foiled by his good friend who went down last.
"I was like, 'Yeah, this is going to be tough for Ted," Jansrud said. "I skied good on the top, felt like I was pushing it."
But this was Ligety's time as he captured a World Cup race a few hours after Lindsey Vonn cruised to a super-G win in Lake Louise, Alberta.
This was definitely a banner day for the Americans on the hill, producing two winners on the same afternoon for the first time in nearly four years.
"It's really cool," Ligety said. "It's nice to have my name next to hers when she's winning."
Vonn pretty much predicted this, too. In an interview played over the loud speakers at Beaver Creek before the men's race, Vonn was asked if she had any words of wisdom for Ligety.
"Ligety is a racehorse," Vonn said. "He knows what he's doing. He's going to have no problems whatsoever. He's going to attack like he knows how and I'm sure he's going to pull through."
Just like that, Ligety did.
"This was awesome," Ligety said. "The caliber of this field is awesome. It's a special feeling when you get a win against a field like this."
Especially after what transpired the day before in the super-G, when many of the top Americans didn't finish the run, including Miller and Ligety.
"Yesterday was frustrating, but that's ski racing," Ligety said. "If you dwelled on all the bad performances, you'd be a pretty depressed person. I just kind of forgot about that as quickly as I could and moved on."
For Miller, the problem centered more on his skis. He was slow on the first run and switched over to a different model to tackle the grippy snow. The change didn't help as Miller finished 27th, 8.68 seconds behind Ligety.
The big of gap was mainly due to the fact that on his second run Miller hit a patch of soft snow, zapping his speed and knocking him out of contention.
It was an all together forgettable World Cup stop for Miller.
"Always disappointing when you tank out of races," Miller said. "But on this hill, it's been a trend for me. If I can make it down without big mistakes, I win. If not, I don't."
Swiss skier Daniel Albrecht returned to racing and wound up in 21st place. Albrecht had a horrific crash nearly two years ago during a downhill training run at Kitzbuehel, Austria, that left him in a medically induced coma with brain and lung injuries.
The crowd gave Albrecht a rousing ovation after both of his runs.
"It was such a hard road to come back," Albrecht said. "It took a lot of time. I was hoping to do everything well again. That was the satisfying thing, to be able to come back to where I was."
Just his presence back on the mountain impressed Ligety, let alone his ability to be a factor in this race.
"That's phenomenal," Ligety said. "That's really a credit to him and what a good skier he is now, and how really good he was before."