The snow is on the ground, the winter sports world cup season is off and running, and the Americans are already making impressive steps toward the top of the Sochi podium.
Torino combined gold medalist Ted Ligety started his season by dominating the first event of the giant slalom calendar, winning by a staggering 2.75 seconds, the largest margin in that race at an World Cup event in 33 years.
“This an unbelievable gap, a once-in-a-career margin,” Ligety, who was in second after his first run despite terrible weather conditions, told the AP Sunday. “In the second run, I took more risks than anyone else, more than what was really smart, so I got a bit lucky there.”
The victory in Austria was the twelfth of Ligety’s career, who also won the 2011 giant slalom world championhips in Garmisch, Germany. The American beat out Italy’s Manfred Moelgg and Austria’s Marcel HIrscher, the reigning world cup champ in the event, who were both equally impressed with the feat.
“The top in GS is only Ligety, then comes the rest of the world,” Hirscher said. “This is a big blow for us. It makes almost no sense racing against him. We have a lot of work to do.”
The record for the largest gap between first and second is still held by Sweden’s double Olympic gold medalist Ingemar Stenmark, who won a race in Jasna, Slovakia by 4.06 seconds back in 1979.
“Olympic Pride, American Prejudice,” a documentary on 18 African-American Olympians at the Berlin 1936 Games, is set to be screened in the spring and be narrated and executive produced by Blair Underwood, according to Variety.
The group of 18, headlined by Jesse Owens, competed in the face of Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler on the brink of World War II.
Trailers for the film are here and here.
From the film’s website:
“Olympic Pride, American Prejudice is a feature length documentary exploring the trials and triumphs of 18 African American Olympians in 1936. Set against the strained and turbulent atmosphere of a racially divided America, which was torn between boycotting Hitler’s Olympics or participating in the Third Reich’s grandest affair, the film follows 16 men and two women before, during and after their heroic turn at the Summer Olympic Games in Berlin. They represented a country that considered them second class citizens and competed in a country that rolled out the red carpet in spite of an undercurrent of Aryan superiority and anti-Semitism. They carried the weight of a race on their shoulders and did the unexpected with grace and dignity.
The athletes experienced things that they were not expecting—applause, warm welcomes, integrated Olympic villages and the respect of their competitors. They were world heroes yet returned home to a short-lived glory. This story is complicated. This story is triumphant but unheralded.”
MORE: See ‘Race’ film poster
Family members of the Munich 1972 Olympic attack victims “described the extent of the cruelty” in interviews for “Munich 1972 & Beyond,” an upcoming documentary on the massacre, according to The New York Times.
Eleven Israeli athletes and officials were killed after being taken hostage by a Palestinian group in the athletes’ village nearly 40 years ago, with nine dying in a failed rescue attempt.
In 1992, widows of two of the victims learned details of how the athletes and officials were treated — including via graphic photographs — and recently spoke publicly about it, according to the newspaper.
“What they did is that they cut off his genitals through his underwear and abused him,” Ilana Romano said through a translator of husband Yossef Romano, an Olympic weightlifter, according to the newspaper. “Can you imagine the nine others sitting around tied up? They watched this.”
The documentary “Munich 1972 & Beyond,” announced earlier this year, is set to be released in early 2016. Here’s an interview with one of the film’s producers.
In 2014, it was announced that a $2.3 million memorial in Munich was planned to remember the victims, with the International Olympic Committee contributing $250,000.
At Rio 2016, a moment of remembrance will be held during the Closing Ceremony and a special mourning area will be in the Olympic village to honor those who have died during an Olympic Games.
PHOTOS: Munich 1972 Olympic sites, including massacre site