If Ted Ligety is going to be a multiple-medal threat in Sochi, he must produce strong results outside the giant slalom.
He took a step in Beaver Creek, Colo., on Saturday, with his third top-five super-G finish over the last four World Cup seasons.
Ligety navigated the Birds of Prey course in 1 minute, 22.21 seconds, which was good for fifth place, .48 behind Swiss winner Patrick Kueng.
“My super-G has a big range,” Ligety said, according to USA Today. “When it’s steep, I’m one of the fastest guys. If it’s flat and easy, I’m one of the middle-of-the-pack guys. So it depends where my skill set falls in there. So when it’s steep, like it is here for the most part, I have a good chance of making up time. When it’s more moderate, guys like Aksel [Lund Svindal] have a chance to beat me every time.”
Kueng, 29, who finished fifth in the previous two World Cup races, won his first career World Cup race.
“I knew I was in a good shape, in training I was fast,” Kueng said on NBC. “It’s incredible.”
Austrian Otmar Striedinger, who had never finished better than 17th in a World Cup, was second, .24 behind. Hannes Reichelt of Austria and Peter Fill of Italy shared third. Norway’s Svindal, who won the downhill Friday, came in seventh to keep his overall World Cup lead.
Ligety, 29, dominated at the World Championships in February, winning the giant slalom, super-G and super combined. He became the first man in 45 years to win three gold medals at a single worlds.
But Ligety had never before won an international super-G or super combined race (he won the 2006 Olympic combined). He missed a gate in last week’s super-G in Lake Louise, Alberta.
Ligety will be the favorite when the Beaver Creek World Cup stop concludes with a giant slalom at 11:45 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. ET on Sunday. NBCSN will have coverage at 3 p.m. ET.
Ligety is the reigning World Cup and world champion in the giant slalom. He won the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, on Oct. 27.
“My slalom is like fine china,” he said, according to USA Today. “It’s really nice and looks pretty sometimes and it can be fast, but if you drop it, it breaks easily. Whereas maybe my giant slalom is like an iron skillet, where you can kick it around and do anything with it and it holds up. That’s been a little bit frustrating for me, but that’s how it kind of goes sometimes in ski racing.”
On Saturday, Olympic super-G silver medalist Bode Miller placed 14th, one spot lower than his season-best downhill finish Friday. Miller, 36 and a four-time Olympian, missed all of last season following knee surgery.
Miller said he skied “pretty close” to the peak of his ability, according to the Denver Post.
“There’s three really blind turns there that are pretty nasty at high speed at the top, and I hit all three of them within a foot of where I wanted to be, at full speed,” Miller told the newspaper. “For me, that’s really encouraging.”
Beaver Creek super-G
1. Patrick Kueng (SUI) 1:21.73
2. Otmar Striedinger (AUT) 1:21.97
3. Hannes Reichelt (AUT) 1:22.11
3. Peter Fill (ITA) 1:22.11
5. Ted Ligety (USA) 1:22.21
6. Thomas Mermillod Blondin (FRA) 1:22.27
7. Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) 1:22.34
8. Werner Heel (ITA) 1:22.41
9. Kjetil Jansrud (NOR) 1:22.64
10. Matthias Mayer (AUT) 1:22.66
14. Bode Miller (USA) 1:22.98
20. Andrew Weibrecht (USA) 1:23.29
37. Steven Nyman (USA) 1:24.02
47. Marco Sullivan (USA) 1:25.09
DNF. Nick Daniels (USA)
DNF. Erik Fisher (USA)
DNF. Travis Ganong (USA)
DNF. Jared Goldberg (USA)
DNF. Brennan Rubie (USA)