The last time Ted Ligety stood on a World Cup podium was Dec. 5, 2015. Austrian Marcel Hirscher took his first super-G win that snowy day at Beaver Creek and Andrew Weibrecht of the U.S. claimed third. In the more than two years since then, Ligety has been plagued by various injuries including tearing his ACL in January 2016 and then undergoing back surgery just a year later. The American came back to racing at various points between the pain, but never skied to his full potential.
Now, it seems the two-time Olympic gold medalist has found his flow in giant slalom just in time for his fourth Winter Olympic Games. In the final GS before heading to PyeongChang, Ligety ascended to a third-place finish at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.
“Happy to be on the podium,” Ligety said. “It’s definitely nice to finally make that step here when it’s been a tough couple years injury wise.”
While he made some mistakes in the second run that ultimately pushed him from second to third place, the American was happy with his skiing.
“This hill is always a tough hill,” he continued. “It’s not really a place you can lace two really good turns together unless you’re Marcel, of course. First run, I was actually surprised to be as fast as I was and second run, I think I skied better actually second run, just a little bit more mistakes.”
Teammates Marcel Hirscher and Manuel Feller of Austria went 1-2. For Hirscher, it marked his 55th career win, making him the second-most successful male World Cup skier behind Ingemar Stenmark with 86 wins. He won with a combined time of 2:40.18.
“I’m really surprised that things are going so well after my injury,” Hirscher said. “Fortunately, a win never becomes routine.”
Winning the giant slalom before the Games is often a good indicator of gold medal potential–unless you’re Hirscher. In the last 20 years, he is the only man to not claim the Olympic giant slalom title after winning the last World Cup in the discipline ahead of the Games. He finished fourth at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games after winning the World Cup in Kranjska Gora. That said, Hirscher was not nearly as dominant at that point in his career. The win in Slovenia was only his second of the 2009-10 season as compared to this season where Hirscher has won seven of the last eight GS races.
“Back in Vancouver, Marcel wasn’t the Marcel he is right now,” Ligety said. “So it’s a totally different story. Right now, it’s really, really difficult to beat Marcel. He beats himself. That’s the fact of the matter right now, so you have to ski as fast as you can and hope that’s good enough.”
For Feller, it was his first appearance in the top three. Being 1.57 seconds off the winning pace was enough to snag the second spot on the podium. The Austrian has been close before, but his wild style has made it tough for him to put two fast runs together.
“I’ve done some very good races in the giant slalom, but unfortunately it was never enough for the podium,” Feller said. “Today it finally fit.”
Aside from Ligety, the Americans were represented by Tim Jitloff and Tommy Ford in the second run. The took 20th and 27th, respectively. Ryan Cochran-Siegle, Hig Roberts and David Chodounsky did not qualify for a second run.
The final men’s race before the Games is the Stockholm City Event on Jan. 30. Olympic action kicks off on Feb. 11 with the men’s downhill.
- Marcel Hirscher (AUT) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Manuel Feller (AUT) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Ted Ligety (USA) – Head / Head / Head
- Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR) – Rossignol / Look / Rossignol
- Matts Olsson (SWE) – Head / Head / Head
- Aleksander Aamodt Kilde (NOR) – Head / Head / Head
- Florian Eisath (ITA) – Blizzard / Tecnica / Marker
- Mathieu Faivre (FRA) – Head / Head / Head
- Alexis Pinturault (FRA) – Head / Head / Head
- Loic Meillard (SUI) – Rossignol / Look / Rossignol
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points||WC Points|
|6||16||422139||KILDE Aleksander Aamodt||1992||NOR||1:19.82||1:22.49||2:42.31||+2.13||13.03||40|
|31||1||421669||NESTVOLD-HAUGEN Leif Kristian||1987||NOR||1:19.98||1:32.46||2:52.44||+12.26||75.01||0|
|Did not qualify for 2nd run|
|15||990116||DE ALIPRANDINI Luca||1990||ITA||1:22.12||0|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|63||422300||EIDE Peder Dahlum||1994||NOR||0|
|Disqualified 1st run|
|Did not start 1st run|
|70||54106||BREITFUSS KAMMERLANDER Simon||1992||BOL||0|