Ligety closes in on Hirscher with 6th career win in Kranjska Gora


Ligety in Kranjska Gora (GEPA/Wolfgang Grebien)

Ted Ligety making history in Kranjska Gora. (GEPA/Wolfgang Grebien)

Kranjska Gora’s Pokal Vitranc races on the Podkoren track 3 in Slovenia have seen their share of ski racing history. This season’s World Cup giant slalom punched that reputation up a notch as the amazing Ted Ligety battled a second run course that baked under a bright sun and 48 degree temperatures to eke out a narrow 0.18 of a second victory. In the process, Ligety collected his his sixth GS win at the site, a World Cup record that eclipses Ingemar Stenmark, Didier Cuche, Hermann Maier, Aksel Lund Svindal, and Alberto Tomba, each of whom tallied five wins in one discipline at a single site over the course of their careers.

Interestingly enough, it was Austria’s Benjamin Raich finishing second on the day, charging from the 17th best finish in the first run to land on the World Cup podium for his first time since 2012. Had Ligey faltered, Raich would have joined the group of five time winners, as he and Ligety account for nine of the last 11 GS victories at Kranjska Gora.

The win also bumped Ligety within 50 points of GS standings leader Marcel Hirscher, the fourth place finisher on the day. Getting third and cementing his status as a legitimate World Cup podium contender in both slalom and now GS was Henrik Kristoffersen, the 19-year-old Norwegian Olympic medal winner and newly crowned double World Junior gold medalist. Second after the first run, Kristoffersen was brilliant on a second run that saw the surface change dramatically from top to bottom. He survived a hip check mid course to maintain his pace and finish just behind the veteran Raich.

“I was hoping I could be top five maybe, but to be on the podium is pretty amazing,” said Kristoffersen. “I knew I could do it, I was in a great position after the first run. I did a small mistake in the second one, it cost me some time but I am still very happy with how things turned out. I have always said that GS is as important as slalom for me so it was important to get it going.”

Many of the best in the business had significant difficulty with the second run; able to attack where the ice was holding at the top, but floundering mightily from the middle of the track to the finish, making for considerable drama as the race unfolded before those in the stands.

Max Blardone slid on his side through a gate. Alexis Pinturault got his head caught on a gate and was wrenched around violently but survived for a finish. Felix Neureuther went from a 0.09 lead at the second interval to a 0.74 deficit at the third. Hirscher dropped from a 0.65 advantage to 0.29 in the same section as Neureuther, then dipped to a 0.45 deficit in the final section, raising an eyebrow from Raich who did not expect his second run time to hold up as well as it did. Fritz Dopfer also lost three quarters of he second between the second and third timers.

So when Ligety committed a visible error on the final pitch, it certainly heightened the drama. As it was, his margin coming into the final pitch was enough to preserve his 27th career World Cup win and sixth win of the season including the Olympic GS gold. Although he made up 50 points on GS leader Hirscher and now sits 50 points down, he knows he will need some help to win his fifth title in the discipline.

“Now the GS title isn’t so far away, but it’s still kind of far away especially with the mistakes I’ve made so far this year. I’m just skiing race to race. You know, wins are always important even if they don’t go for the title,” Ligety said following the race.

With six wins in Kranjska Gora, Ligety obviously likes the hill, noting that he was able to cope with the disintegrating course because of his tactics.

“This hill is definitely a really cool hill. It has so much personality and it’s a really fun hill to ski on. It has the steep parts, it has rolls, it has a little bit of a gliding section, so it’s a true GS skier’s hill,” remarked Ligety. “I just try to stay ahead of the rut, as always. I’m not the kind of person that tries to cut off lines, so I just tried to ski smart and be clean as much as I could.”

Raich’s confidence is renewed by his result even if he wasn’t certain he could get there after his first run performance.

“I’m very happy, it was a goal for me to get a podium finish, I believed I could ski well enough,” Raich said. “My first run was not all that good but I knew that in these conditions anything could be possible. Maybe I didn’t really think I could make it all the way on the podium and that is quite a surprise.”

Tim Jitloff picked up the only other top-10 finish for North Americans in eighth, and Canadian Phil Brown collected the first GS World Cup points of his career by tying Bode Miller for 24th. Jitloff will now head to World Cup Finals for the first time in his career, having finished 19th in the GS standings this season.

 

THE SCOOP

Men’s World Cup giant slalom, Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, March 8, 2014

Equipment – skis/boots/bindings

1 Ligety, Head/Head/Head

2 Raich, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic

3 Kristoffersen, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol

4 Hirscher, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic

5 Dopfer, Nordica/Nordica/

6 Nani, Voelkl/Fischer/Marker

7 Faivre, Head/Head/Head

8 Jitloff, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer

9 Missillier, Dynastar/Lange/Look

10 Sandell, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer

Men’s World Cup giant slalom, Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, March 8, 2014. … It is the 29th of 35 races on the men’s schedule with five races remaining. … It is the seventh of eight scheduled GS’s. … It is the 80th World Cup race hosted by Kranjska Gora… the 39th GS. … It is the 53rd annual Pokal Vitranc. … Ted Ligey has won the GS here five times including the last two consecutive. Warm (9c)… bright sunny day.

It is the 22nd career World Cup win for Ted Ligety. … He is second among U.S. men all-time. … It is his 21st World Cup GS win matching Vreni Schneider for third all-time behind Ingemar Stenmark (46) and Michael VonGruenigen (23). … It is the 267th U.S. World Cup win. … Ligety becomes the first in history to win six World Cup races in the same discipline at the same site. … It is his sixth win of the season (five World Cup and one Olympic). … He matches Jean-Claude Killy, Stenmark and Von Gruenigen as the only four men to win four or more GS’s in consecutive seasons.

It is the 92nd career World Cup podium for Benjamin Raich… his first of the season. … His last podium had come with a super G win at Crans-Montana Feb. 25, 2012. … It is his 10th career World Cup podium at Kranjska Gora.

It is the fifth career World Cup podium for Henrik Kristoffersen… his first in GS. … All have come this season. … He joins Lasse Kjus, Harald Strand Nilsen, Kjetil Jansrud and Kjetil Aamodt as Norwegians to podium in GS at Kranjska Gora.

Tim Jitloff matches his second best career World Cup result. He has been fifth in GS twice before (Sestriere Feb. 21, 2009 and Alta Badia Dec. 22, 2013). … He was eighth once previously, in combined (Bansko Feb. 26, 2011).

It is the first career World Cup score for Philip Brown. … The 255th for Bode Miller.

Aksel Lund Svindal (17th in race) maintains a 1046-1005 margin over Marcel Hirscher (fourth in race) for the lead of the World Cup overall standings with five races remaining. … Alexis Pinturualt (18th in race) is third overall with 787pts. … Ted Ligery is fourth with 729pts. … Bode Miller (24th in race) is seventh overall with 525pts. … Erik Guay (did not race) is top Canadian in 12th with 440pts.

Hirscher leads the GS standings 510-460 over Ligety with one race remaining. Pinturault is third with 378pts and cannot win the title. … Jitloff and Miller both qualify for World Cup Finals with Jitloff in 19th and Miller 20th.

 

RESULTS

Rank Bib FIS Code Name Year Nation Run 1 Run 2 Total Time Diff. FIS Points
 1  4  534562 LIGETY Ted 1984 USA  1:12.66  1:18.14  2:30.80  0.00
 2  15  50625 RAICH Benjamin 1978 AUT  1:14.27  1:16.71  2:30.98  +0.18  1.06
 3  16  422304 KRISTOFFERSEN Henrik 1994 NOR  1:13.08  1:17.97  2:31.05  +0.25  1.48
 4  5  53831 HIRSCHER Marcel 1989 AUT  1:13.40  1:18.03  2:31.43  +0.63  3.72
 5  6  202462 DOPFER Fritz 1987 GER  1:13.19  1:18.39  2:31.58  +0.78  4.60
 6  13  294890 NANI Roberto 1988 ITA  1:14.11  1:17.67  2:31.78  +0.98  5.78
 7  10  194495 FAIVRE Mathieu 1992 FRA  1:14.71  1:17.17  2:31.88  +1.08  6.37
 8  23  534959 JITLOFF Tim 1985 USA  1:15.03  1:16.98  2:32.01  +1.21  7.14
 9  2  192506 MISSILLIER Steve 1984 FRA  1:13.91  1:18.21  2:32.12  +1.32  7.79
 10  20  180534 SANDELL Marcus 1987 FIN  1:14.20  1:18.19  2:32.39  +1.59  9.38
 11  21  292120 SIMONCELLI Davide 1979 ITA  1:14.19  1:18.21  2:32.40  +1.60  9.44
 12  1  201702 NEUREUTHER Felix 1984 GER  1:13.74  1:18.70  2:32.44  +1.64  9.68
 13  7  191750 FANARA Thomas 1981 FRA  1:14.63  1:17.82  2:32.45  +1.65  9.74
 14  24  990116 DE ALIPRANDINI Luca 1990 ITA  1:14.01  1:18.45  2:32.46  +1.66  9.80
 15  14  292491 MOELGG Manfred 1982 ITA  1:14.93  1:17.62  2:32.55  +1.75  10.33
 15  11  421669 HAUGEN Leif Kristian 1987 NOR  1:13.88  1:18.67  2:32.55  +1.75  10.33
 17  8  421328 SVINDAL Aksel Lund 1982 NOR  1:14.15  1:18.45  2:32.60  +1.80  10.62
 18  3  194364 PINTURAULT Alexis 1991 FRA  1:13.78  1:18.92  2:32.70  +1.90  11.21
 19  54  6290440 ZINGERLE Alex 1992 ITA  1:15.94  1:17.04  2:32.98  +2.18  12.87
 20  25  193967 MUFFAT-JEANDET Victor 1989 FRA  1:14.67  1:18.36  2:33.03  +2.23  13.16
 21  12  51007 SCHOERGHOFER Philipp 1983 AUT  1:13.92  1:19.21  2:33.13  +2.33  13.75
 22  36  511741 ZURBRIGGEN Elia 1990 SUI  1:16.09  1:17.06  2:33.15  +2.35  13.87
 23  27  53985 MATHIS Marcel 1991 AUT  1:15.25  1:18.24  2:33.49  +2.69  15.88
 24  35  103676 BROWN Philip 1991 CAN  1:15.73  1:17.80  2:33.53  +2.73  16.11
 24  17  532431 MILLER Bode 1977 USA  1:14.59  1:18.94  2:33.53  +2.73  16.11
 26  26  292000 BLARDONE Massimiliano 1979 ITA  1:14.13  1:21.21  2:35.34  +4.54  26.79
Disqualified 2nd run
 42  481148 MAYTAKOV Sergei 1990 RUS
Did not start 1st run
 68  501111 HARGIN Mattias 1985 SWE
Did not qualify for 2nd run
 67  92562 PRISADOV Stefan 1990 BUL
 65  561217 KOSI Klemen 1991 SLO
 64  30149 SIMARI BIRKNER Cristian Javier 1980 ARG
 62  380335 ZUBCIC Filip 1993 CRO
 61  561148 SKUBE Matic 1988 SLO
 60  561254 ZERAK Misel 1992 SLO
 59  54027 BRENNSTEINER Stefan 1991 AUT
 57  422275 JOHANSEN Ola Buer 1993 NOR
 56  511857 JENAL Sandro 1992 SUI
 55  53980 KRIECHMAYR Vincent 1991 AUT
 52  194686 FABRE Jonas 1993 FRA
 51  422390 MONSEN Marcus 1995 NOR
 50  54063 FELLER Manuel 1992 AUT
 49  54093 STROLZ Johannes 1992 AUT
 48  293550 MARSAGLIA Matteo 1985 ITA
 46  511896 MURISIER Justin 1992 SUI
 45  202345 SCHWAIGER Dominik 1991 GER
 44  481327 TRIKHICHEV Pavel 1992 RUS
 41  990048 BORSOTTI Giovanni 1990 ITA
 40  930160 KELLEY Robby 1990 USA
 38  511852 CAVIEZEL Gino 1992 SUI
 34  511638 TUMLER Thomas 1989 SUI
 32  934568 RUBIE Brennan 1991 USA
 31  561244 KRANJEC Zan 1992 SLO
 30  192504 MERMILLOD BLONDIN Thomas 1984 FRA
 29  292967 EISATH Florian 1984 ITA
 28  380260 KOSTELIC Ivica 1979 CRO
Did not finish 2nd run
 39  180666 TORSTI Samu 1991 FIN
 18  421483 JANSRUD Kjetil 1985 NOR
 9  501324 OLSSON Matts 1988 SWE
Did not finish 1st run
 69  151024 KOTZMANN Adam 1993 CZE
 66  561322 HADALIN Stefan 1995 SLO
 63  561278 REICH – POGLADIC Andraz 1993 SLO
 58  700879 ZAMPA Andreas 1993 SVK
 53  150644 KRYZL Krystof 1986 CZE
 47  422278 WINDINGSTAD Rasmus 1993 NOR
 43  700830 ZAMPA Adam 1990 SVK
 37  192653 FREY Thomas 1984 FRA
 33  100558 COOK Dustin 1989 CAN
 22  511313 JANKA Carlo 1986 SUI
 19  53902 MAYER Matthias 1990 AUT

 

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