Ted Ligety strikes gold in Olympic GS


Ted Ligety leading after first run in Sochi. (GEPA)

Ted Ligety’s first run in Sochi. (GEPA)

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia — With nearly a second cushion between him and the next best racer after the first run, it was Ted Ligety’s race to lose at the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

At least that’s what Austrian rival Marcel Hirscher told reporters between runs.

Ligety may have cut it a little closer than many of his supporters in the Rosa Khutor finish stadium would have liked. In his second giant slalom run, the American gave up a full second on France’s Steve Missillier, who jumped from 10th place into silver medal position. The split times for Ligety were gradually moving in the wrong direction. One error in particular on the pitch prompted a collective gasp from the bleachers, but smooth skiing through to the finish proved enough to secure the win by a half-second and an Olympic gold medal — the second of his career. Ligety became the first American male to win an Olympic GS, and he tied Andrea Mead Lawrence’s alpine record of two career gold medals, both won during the 1952 Oslo Games, in the process.

With two solid runs, another Frenchman Alexis Pinturault claimed the bronze medal, as Hirscher finished just off the podium in fourth.

After the first run, Ligety held a 0.93-second lead over surprise contender Ondrej Bank, of the Czech Republic, who skied from the 28th start position to land the second best GS run of the morning.

“The plan was really just to nail a couple of the big rolls,” said Ligety. “Bear’s Brow, I was surprised how they set it (first run), just because there’s potential for making big mistakes off that if you took all your speed into it. I didn’t catch any air, but I also ditched a lot of speed there. I think that’s a safer strategy. … This hill is not so difficult skiing-wise, but it’s difficult tactically.”

Ligety, who won three gold medals at the World Championships in Schladming a year ago, had been shut out in these Games up until Wednesday’s GS, which he was the favorite to win.

“The combined was definitely a huge disappointment,” Ligety said reflecting on his time in Russia. “The super G was great. I just made one big mistake. … That was frustrating but at least I knew I was skiing fast.

“Today was awesome. There’s not really any other way to put it. This is something I’ve been working for since I was a little kid. Being the favorite in alpine skiing is never easy … because it’s not an event that’s super simple to win even if you’re the best in the world.”

“He is just brilliant,” said Hirscher, who currently leads both the overall and GS World Cup standings. “The best guy won today. Before the race started it would have been a big surprise if someone beat him. … I am the first loser and it’s bad. For sure, I am disappointed, on the other hand I am not far away (from the medals) right now.” Still, fourth was a hard result for Hirscher to stomach, and he made no effort to conceal his disappointment following the race.

“I am really pissed off. It was the biggest chance for a medal in my whole career,” said Hirscher. The 2013 slalom world champion has even lost some of his confidence heading into Saturday’s race after his GS performance. “I have no big hopes, if I do not get well on this course, I do not think it is going to go well.”

When it comes to Bode Miller, one never knows what can happen at one of these races. It wasn’t more than three months ago that Miller surprised the ski racing world joining Ligety on the GS podium in Beaver Creek. However, Wednesday was not his day. Sitting two-and-a-half seconds back after a sloppy first run, Miller skied to 20th.

The five-time Olympic veteran announced after the race he plans to forgo the slalom on Saturday, marking an end to his Olympic career.

“It’s tough to have my last (Olympic) race look like this, but I’m good,” said Miller, who’s had an emotional couple days. “Obviously, I feel like I was capable of more, but my effort and my intensity were as good as I could possibly put out there. … There’s a lot of stuff going on, but afterwards you move on and you focus. It’s the same with a bad result or a good result. Skiing the next day comes whether you’re ready for it or not.”

Miller said he plans to finish out the World Cup season; he did not say what’s in store after that, but he did offer is own two cents on the much-analyzed Ted Ligety style.

“In general, (Ligety) just carries speed from turn to turn better,” said Miller. “Because he’s going deeper, his turn is actually longer … Ted goes so round that his turn is naturally a longer radius. So by the time his turn finishes, it’s time to go into the next turn. … That way, he generates from one turn right into the next one and tips it up. The two things work together. He generates more speed … and because he has so much space, he never pinches or gets in trouble because he’s always way far away from the gate.

“Take nothing away from Ted. I think he’s one of the best GS skiers in history,” added Miller, “but if he had some competitors that skied alternative styles to his — everyone right now is trying to do what he’s doing … If you saw a guy like (Alberto) Tomba at his best or Hermann (Maier) at his best or even (Michael) Von Gruenigen, those guys had there own thing going and they knew exactly how to do it. It would be tough for Ted to compete against somebody who was cutting that much line off him.”

Tim Jitloff and Jared Goldberg also represented the U.S., finishing 15th and 19th, respectively. Jitloff picked up some time early in his second run, but couldn’t hang on coming down the pitch. Meanwhile, Goldberg, competing in his first Olympic Games and skiing from bib 40, threw down the sixth fastest second-run time.

“I’m happier with the second run than I was with the first,” said Jitloff. “In the first run I was really intense on top and really tried to send it, but it was too aggressive and I made some errors that slowed me down. On this run I tried to balance that out. So the second run was a little more balanced in terms of intensity and push.”

See more photos from the race here

 

POST-RACE PRESS CONFERENCE

 

THE SCOOP

By Hank McKee

Men’s Olympic giant slalom, Sochi, Russia, Feb 19, 2014. … It is the eighth of ten alpine events at the 22nd Winter Olympics. … The fourth of five for men. … It is the 34th Olympic GS… the 17th for men. … Austrians have won three of the last four Olympic men’s GS races. … No American male had previously won an Olympic GS gold medal. … Tom Corcoran placed fourth in 1960 and Bode Miller second in 2002. Perfect conditions, 31.3 degrees Fahrenheit at the start, 23.5 at the finish.

It is the second Olympic gold medal for Ted Ligety, the previous in combined in 2006. … He and Andrea Mead Lawrence (GS and SL 1952) are the only American alpine skiers with two gold medals. … It is his fifth win of the season and fourth in GS. … He is the first U.S. male to win an Olympic gold medal in GS. … It is the 15th U.S. alpine Olympic gold medal and the first gold in four medals in 2014.

It is the first Olympic medal for Steve Missillier. … He combines with Alexis Pinturault to put two Frenchman on a single podium. … The French did this in slalom in 2002. … It is Missillier’s best result of the season, bettering a fourth in GS from Soelden Oct. 27.

It is the first Olympic result for Alexis Pinturault. … It is his seventh podium result of the season… his fourth in GS.

It is the first Olympic result for Tim Jitloff. … It is his third best finish of the season, second best in GS behind a fifth at Alta Badia Dec. 22. … It is the second top-20 Olympic finish for Jared Goldberg and his first GS result of the season. … It is the worst of four finishes at the 2014 Olympics for Bode Miller. …It is the first Olympic result for Trevor Philipp and Philip Brown and the third, all in 2014, for Morgan Pridy.

Alpine medal count: Austria 2 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze; Canada 1 bronze; Croatia 1 silver; France 1 silver, 1 bronze; Germany 1 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze; Italy 1 silver, 1 bronze; Norway 1 gold, 1 bronze; Slovenia 2 gold; Switzerland 2 gold, 1 bronze; USA 1 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze.

 

RESULTS

Rank Bib FIS Code Name Year Nation Run 1 Run 2 Total Time Diff. FIS Points
 1  7  534562 LIGETY Ted 1984 USA  1:21.08  1:24.21  2:45.29  0.00
 2  10  192506 MISSILLIER Steve 1984 FRA  1:22.58  1:23.19  2:45.77  +0.48  2.58
 3  1  194364 PINTURAULT Alexis 1991 FRA  1:22.44  1:23.49  2:45.93  +0.64  3.45
 4  3  53831 HIRSCHER Marcel 1989 AUT  1:22.47  1:23.76  2:46.23  +0.94  5.06
 5  28  150398 BANK Ondrej 1980 CZE  1:22.01  1:24.28  2:46.29  +1.00  5.38
 6  18  53902 MAYER Matthias 1990 AUT  1:22.41  1:23.93  2:46.34  +1.05  5.65
 7  8  50625 RAICH Benjamin 1978 AUT  1:22.67  1:23.68  2:46.35  +1.06  5.71
 8  2  201702 NEUREUTHER Felix 1984 GER  1:22.51  1:24.08  2:46.59  +1.30  7.00
 9  5  191750 FANARA Thomas 1981 FRA  1:22.41  1:24.32  2:46.73  +1.44  7.75
 10  21  422304 KRISTOFFERSEN Henrik 1994 NOR  1:22.71  1:24.08  2:46.79  +1.50  8.08
 11  24  990116 DE ALIPRANDINI Luca 1990 ITA  1:23.08  1:23.83  2:46.91  +1.62  8.72
 12  6  202462 DOPFER Fritz 1987 GER  1:22.59  1:24.38  2:46.97  +1.68  9.05
 13  23  511313 JANKA Carlo 1986 SUI  1:22.52  1:24.52  2:47.04  +1.75  9.42
 14  19  501324 OLSSON Matts 1988 SWE  1:23.01  1:24.05  2:47.06  +1.77  9.53
 15  22  534959 JITLOFF Tim 1985 USA  1:23.23  1:23.90  2:47.13  +1.84  9.91
 16  15  421669 HAUGEN Leif Kristian 1987 NOR  1:23.58  1:23.57  2:47.15  +1.86  10.02
 17  20  292120 SIMONCELLI Davide 1979 ITA  1:22.35  1:25.00  2:47.35  +2.06  11.09
 18  9  51007 SCHOERGHOFER Philipp 1983 AUT  1:22.83  1:24.63  2:47.46  +2.17  11.68
 19  40  934643 GOLDBERG Jared 1991 USA  1:23.66  1:23.82  2:47.48  +2.19  11.79
 20  16  532431 MILLER Bode 1977 USA  1:23.64  1:24.18  2:47.82  +2.53  13.62
 21  35  180666 TORSTI Samu 1991 FIN  1:23.59  1:24.38  2:47.97  +2.68  14.43
 22  30  700830 ZAMPA Adam 1990 SVK  1:23.13  1:25.28  2:48.41  +3.12  16.80
 23  31  561244 KRANJEC Zan 1992 SLO  1:23.82  1:24.66  2:48.48  +3.19  17.18
 24  12  194495 FAIVRE Mathieu 1992 FRA  1:23.53  1:25.90  2:49.43  +4.14  22.29
 25  36  103865 PHILP Trevor 1992 CAN  1:24.38  1:25.17  2:49.55  +4.26  22.94
 26  34  481148 MAYTAKOV Sergei 1990 RUS  1:23.75  1:25.92  2:49.67  +4.38  23.58
 27  25  380260 KOSTELIC Ivica 1979 CRO  1:23.87  1:25.81  2:49.68  +4.39  23.64
 28  46  511513 CAVIEZEL Mauro 1988 SUI  1:23.58  1:26.17  2:49.75  +4.46  24.01
 29  33  103676 BROWN Philip 1991 CAN  1:24.82  1:25.09  2:49.91  +4.62  24.88
 30  27  511852 CAVIEZEL Gino 1992 SUI  1:25.45  1:24.95  2:50.40  +5.11  27.51
 31  63  150495 VRABLIK Martin 1982 CZE  1:24.83  1:26.01  2:50.84  +5.55  29.88
 32  39  700879 ZAMPA Andreas 1993 SVK  1:25.54  1:26.08  2:51.62  +6.33  34.08
 33  48  103612 PRIDY Morgan 1990 CAN  1:25.95  1:26.01  2:51.96  +6.67  35.91
 34  38  380318 BRIGOVIC Sebastian 1992 CRO  1:25.82  1:26.43  2:52.25  +6.96  37.48
 35  41  481428 NOVIKOV Vladislav 1993 RUS  1:25.68  1:26.97  2:52.65  +7.36  39.63
 36  74  491151 DE LA CUESTA Paul 1988 SPA  1:27.13  1:26.13  2:53.26  +7.97  42.91
 37  47  561217 KOSI Klemen 1991 SLO  1:26.61  1:26.75  2:53.36  +8.07  43.45
 38  67  20324 OLIVERAS Marc 1991 AND  1:26.40  1:27.34  2:53.74  +8.45  45.50
 39  43  40523 DEMSCHAR Dominic 1993 AUS  1:26.47  1:27.30  2:53.77  +8.48  45.66
 40  44  30149 SIMARI BIRKNER Cristian Javier 1980 ARG  1:26.02  1:27.89  2:53.91  +8.62  46.41
 41  53  320266 JUNG Dong-hyun 1988 KOR  1:26.72  1:28.54  2:55.26  +9.97  53.68
 42  73  350095 PFIFFNER Marco 1994 LIE  1:27.64  1:29.08  2:56.72  +11.43  61.54
 43  49  550054 ZVEJNIEKS Kristaps 1992 LAT  1:27.80  1:29.50  2:57.30  +12.01  64.67
 44  50  410365 BARWOOD Adam 1992 NZL  1:28.51  1:28.89  2:57.40  +12.11  65.21
 45  62  390035 SMITH Warren Cummings 1992 EST  1:28.25  1:29.17  2:57.42  +12.13  65.31
 46  83  740031 SEREBRAKIAN Arman 1987 ARM  1:29.59  1:28.81  2:58.40  +13.11  70.59
 47  64  790025 LAMHAMEDI Adam 1995 MAR  1:29.27  1:29.96  2:59.23  +13.94  75.06
 48  69  460060 BARBU Alexandru 1987 ROU  1:29.47  1:29.77  2:59.24  +13.95  75.11
 49  75  710311 RUDIC Marko 1990 BIH  1:29.55  1:30.40  2:59.95  +14.66  78.94
 50  79  240132 FARKAS Norbert 1992 HUN  1:29.77  1:31.56  3:01.33  +16.04  86.37
 51  60  260110 KIYADARBANDSARI Mohammad 1989 IRA  1:30.12  1:32.01  3:02.13  +16.84  90.67
 52  88  230147 SYKARAS Konstantinos 1984 GRE  1:30.75  1:31.58  3:02.33  +17.04  91.75
 53  59  860005 BRACHNER Patrick 1992 AZE  1:31.32  1:32.31  3:03.63  +18.34  98.75
 54  78  230659 VALCAREGGI Massimiliano 1995 GRE  1:30.72  1:33.64  3:04.36  +19.07  102.68
 55  80  260079 SAVEH SHEMSHAKI Hossein 1985 IRA  1:32.35  1:32.87  3:05.22  +19.93  107.31
 56  86  250348 KRISTGEIRSSON Einar Kristinn 1994 ISL  1:32.90  1:32.55  3:05.45  +20.16  108.55
 57  90  870002 STEYN Luke 1993 ZIM  1:32.20  1:34.35  3:06.55  +21.26  114.47
 58  84  80063 LONGHI Jhonatan 1988 BRA  1:33.03  1:33.69  3:06.72  +21.43  115.39
 59  96  250259 GUDMUNDSSON Brynjar Jokull 1989 ISL  1:33.58  1:36.03  3:09.61  +24.32  130.95
 60  94  690722 MYTSAK Dmytro 1995 UKR  1:34.22  1:37.18  3:11.40  +26.11  140.59
 61  100  770015 TIMOFEEV Evgeniy 1994 KGZ  1:34.65  1:37.07  3:11.72  +26.43  142.31
 62  101  310412 HADZIC Tarik 1994 MNE  1:36.55  1:35.84  3:12.39  +27.10  145.92
 63  99  780013 ZAVECKAS Rokas 1996 LTU  1:36.06  1:36.98  3:13.04  +27.75  149.42
 64  104  160091 PAPAMICHAEL Constantinos 1993 CYP  1:35.74  1:37.37  3:13.11  +27.82  149.80
 65  98  900001 SUCHARITAKUL Kanes 1992 THA  1:37.82  1:37.24  3:15.06  +29.77  160.30
 66  61  320293 KYUNG Sung-hyun 1990 KOR  1:34.03  1:41.17  3:15.20  +29.91  161.05
 67  107  210032 VORONOV Artem 1993 UZB  1:37.09  1:38.36  3:15.45  +30.16  162.40
 68  93  520100 SIMSEK Emre 1987 TUR  1:40.26  1:37.38  3:17.64  +32.35  174.19
 69  102  340305 MOHBAT Alexandre 1995 LIB  1:38.96  1:38.89  3:17.85  +32.56  175.32
 70  108  950000 OETTL REYES Manfred 1993 PER  1:47.05  1:33.91  3:20.96  +35.67  192.06
 71  103  820030 KARIM Muhammad 1995 PAK  1:43.44  1:43.97  3:27.41  +42.12  226.79
 72  106  620059 THAKUR Himanshu 1994 IND  1:47.86  1:49.69  3:37.55  +52.26  281.39
Disqualified 2nd run
 89  120047 ZHANG Yuxin 1989 CHN
Disqualified 1st run
 105  450026 MICHELOTTI Vincenzo Romano 1996 RSM
 11  202437 LUITZ Stefan 1992 GER
Did not start 1st run
 92  280030 VANDEPUT Virgile 1994 ISR
 87  800013 TOLA Erjon 1986 ALB
Did not finish 2nd run
 91  194752 HANSE Arthur 1993 POR
 71  40594 PERAUDO Ross 1992 AUS
 32  481006 ZUEV Stepan 1988 RUS
 17  421483 JANSRUD Kjetil 1985 NOR
 14  294890 NANI Roberto 1988 ITA
 4  292491 MOELGG Manfred 1982 ITA
Did not finish 1st run
 109  920004 PARDO ANDRETTA Antonio Jose 1970 VEN
 97  958400 TRAVERS Dow 1987 CAY
 95  270055 LYNE Conor 1993 IRE
 85  660021 DANILOCHKIN Yuri 1991 BLR
 82  750088 RISTEVSKI Antonio 1989 MKD
 81  710320 LAIKERT Igor 1991 BIH
 77  550061 ONSKULIS Martins 1994 LAT
 76  680041 ABRAMASHVILI Iason 1988 GEO
 72  680047 BENIAIDZE Alex 1991 GEO
 70  310426 VUKICEVIC Marko 1992 SRB
 68  491356 CARRERAS Pol 1990 SPA
 66  110324 VON APPEN Henrik 1994 CHI
 65  30246 BIRKNER KETELHOHN Jorge F. 1990 ARG
 58  491876 PUENTE TASIAS Alex 1994 SPA
 57  92562 PRISADOV Stefan 1990 BUL
 56  20398 VERDU SANCHEZ Joan 1995 AND
 55  320367 PARK Je-yun 1994 KOR
 54  110320 CLARO Eugenio 1993 CHI
 52  30266 GASTALDI Sebastiano 1991 ARG
 51  491129 TERRA Ferran 1987 SPA
 45  370022 JENOT Olivier 1988 MON
 42  380335 ZUBCIC Filip 1993 CRO
 37  481327 TRIKHICHEV Pavel 1992 RUS
 29  150644 KRYZL Krystof 1986 CZE
 26  510727 DEFAGO Didier 1977 SUI
 13  180534 SANDELL Marcus 1987 FIN
Wednesday's Sochi roundup: Snowboard medals all in the familyNorway, Finland take team sprints; both U.S. teams make finals

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