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.