Ligety wins 2nd straight World Cup giant slalom
Ted Ligety is well on his way to a third World Cup giant slalom title, dominating his rivals Saturday for his second straight victory in this event. Now he's trying to carry his success to the slalom as well.
The American beat Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway by more than a second in the French Alps resort for his seventh career victory in his favorite event.
But to achieve his goal of challenging for the overall World Cup title, Ligety knows he needs to vastly improve his slalom results this season —starting with Sunday's race.
"I'm definitely working hard to have my slalom back to where it was four years ago, or even a couple of years ago," Ligety said.
He had six top-three finishes in the discipline between 2006 and 2008 but struggled the last two years. To break his slump, Ligety switched skis during the offseason and did a lot of testing with his new supplier.
"Slalom is so difficult, it's so tight," he said. "The equipment setup makes it a lot easier, so we'll see. It's not easy to be fast in slalom right now but I feel like step by step I'm getting closer to where I was."
In giant slalom, he's looking better than ever.
Coming off his GS win at Beaver Creek, Colo., last weekend, Ligety had a flawless first leg on the Face de Bellevarde and then pulled out a bold second run to win in the combined time of 2 minutes, 26.26 seconds.
Svindal was 1.05 seconds behind while Massimiliano Blardone of Italy was third, 1.21 back.
"I was very impressed by what Ted did today," said Svindal, who leads the World Cup standings ahead of Ligety with 236 points, 15 more than his American rival.
"When you're pulling out two clean runs like he did today, this is normal to have such big margins," Svindal said. "He has been very clean, with no big mistakes. It's hard to get those good results without making mistakes."
U.S. coach Sasha Rearick couldn't hide his admiration for the skier from Park City, Utah, after seeing him tame the daunting slope with such authority.
"I've been coaching Ted a long time and I've never seen him just find this kind of confidence," Rearick said. "He did a great job winning the first run and then in the second run it was the same thing, just perfect execution, true champion style."
Ligety, who won the GS crystal globe last season and in 2008, took bronze on the same course in 2009 at the world championships.
"It's certainly nice to get two races in a row," Ligety said. "It's definitely pretty exciting to be able to do that in such difficult conditions. I've had a lot of podiums, but not a lot of wins. It's a nice little confidence booster for the start of the season."
Most of his competitors struggled, with 20 skiers failing to finish the first run.
Bode Miller of the U.S. skied out after just a few gates in the morning run. Jean-Baptiste Grange of France was eliminated when he went out after three gates. Philipp Schoerghofer of Austria crashed near the finish in the first run, ending up in the safety net but unharmed.
"It's the hardest race I had for a long time and to make it down and win with such a big lead is just amazing," Ligety said after celebrating with Blardone and Svindal in the finish area.
Under clear blue skies, Ligety increased his lead over Svindal and Blardone in the second run while Olympic giant slalom champion Carlo Janka of Switzerland climbed up to fourth with a combined time of 2:27.81.
Marcel Hirscher, who claimed his first World Cup victory ahead of Blardone in last year's Val d'Isere giant slalom, made one big mistake in each run and finished 1.77 off the pace in sixth place behind fellow Austrian Benjamin Raich.
The race was the second completed GS of the season after the opener in Soelden, Austria, was called off after the first run because of poor visibility with Ligety in second place.