Ted Ligety

Ted Ligety wins giant slalom season title in dramatic fashion (video)

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Ted Ligety won the World Cup giant slalom season title by .01 of a second and a points tiebreaker in one of the tightest title races in Alpine skiing history Saturday.

“This has always been the big goal, every single year, to win the giant slalom cup,” Ligety said. “That was by the skin of my teeth today.”

Ligety, the Olympic and world champion in giant slalom, won the World Cup Finals giant slalom race in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, on Saturday.

But he needed help from other skiers to pass Austrian Marcel Hirscher for the season title, which accumulates points from eight races over the last five months.

Hirscher, who had made the podium in six of seven GS races this season, had to finish fourth or worse if Ligety won on Saturday. Ligety skied next to last in the second and final run and into the lead, pushing Hirscher to third.

The last man, first-run leader Felix Neureuther of Germany, needed to finish behind Ligety but ahead of Hirscher for Ligety to win his fifth GS crystal globe in seven years. Neureuther had to ski within a window of .27.

Neureuther crossed the finish .26 behind Ligety and, more importantly, .01 ahead of Hirscher.

“Felix, I owe a lot of beers,” Ligety said.

That meant Ligety and Hirscher tied for 560 points this season, and Ligety won the season title via a tiebreaker. The tie was broken by total GS wins this season. Ligety had five. Hirscher had two.

“That was a tough race this year,” Ligety said. “I was able to win quite a bit of giant slaloms, but it’s really a testament to the mental fortitude of Marcel, to be able to get in there on the podium basically every single race and make it a super, really tough fight this year, and really every year.”

Hirscher, wearing sunglasses at the finish, looked expressionless.

He wore the face of “a beaten man,” according to Eurosport commentators, despite the fact that Hirscher clinched his third straight overall World Cup title Saturday, assuming Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal sticks by his word and isn’t entered in Sunday’s slalom finale.

Lenzerheide Giant Slalom
1. Ted Ligety (USA) 2:15.63
2. Alexis Pinturault (FRA) 2:15.66
3. Felix Neureuther (GER) 2:15.89
4. Marcel Hirscher (AUT) 2:15.90
5. Roberto Nani (ITA) 2:16.08
6. Fritz Dopfer (GER) 2:16.27
7. Luca De Aliprandini (ITA) 2:16.35
8. Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR) 2:16.37
9. Matts Olsson (SWE) 2:16.51
10. Steve Missillier (FRA) 2:16.54
14. Tim Jitloff (USA) 2:17.12
15. Bode Miller (USA) 2:17.17

Final World Cup Giant Slalom Standings
1. Ted Ligety (USA) — 560
2. Marcel Hirscher (AUT) — 560
3. Alexis Pinturault (FRA) — 378

Shiffrin caps season with blowout victory

Teddy Riner, dominant judoka, to skip 2018, 2019 Worlds

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French judoka Teddy Riner, arguably the world’s most dominant athlete, will reportedly skip the next two world championships before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

French coach Franck Chambily said Riner will compete a light international schedule the next two years ahead of what would be his fourth Olympics, according to Agence France-Presse.

Riner, a 29-year-old, 6-foot-8-inch native of Guadeloupe, is undefeated since 2010 with a reported 144-match winning streak. That includes Olympic titles in 2012 and 2016 and world titles in 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017.

Before the streak, Riner also earned world titles in 2007, 2009 and 2010, plus an Olympic bronze at age 19 in 2008.

He could compete through the 2024 Paris Games.

“When I am invincible, I will stop,” Riner said in 2013, according to The Associated Press.

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Maggie Nichols wins NCAA all-around title with perfect 10

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Even after a perfect 10 in the last rotation, Maggie Nichols didn’t know that she had won the NCAA all-around title. Her coach at Oklahoma, K.J. Kindler, had to tell her.

The reaction?

“Excitement,” Nichols said Friday night on ESPNU. “I just wanted to go out there and feel out the equipment, staying calm and doing my routines that I have been doing in training.”

Nichols, a 2015 World team champion who retired from elite gymnastics after missing the 2016 Olympic team (set back by a torn meniscus that year), became the first Sooner to win the NCAA all-around in 30 years.

The sophomore tallied 39.8125 points and topped Olympic alternate MyKayla Skinner of Utah by .0875 for the title in St. Louis. It came one year after Nichols was 29th in the all-around with a balance beam fall.

Oklahoma and Utah will be joined in Saturday night’s Super Six team finals by UCLA, LSU, Florida and Nebraska. The Sooners eye their third straight national title.

Nichols capped her night with one of two perfect scores between the two semifinal sessions, matching 2012 Olympic alternate Elizabeth Price‘s 10 on uneven bars. It gave Nichols a second career gym slam, a perfect score on every apparatus for the season.

On Jan. 9, Nichols came forward as “Athlete A,” who first reported to USA Gymnastics that she was sexually abused by Larry Nassar in summer 2015.

“She has had a really unique year probably like no one else, and her strength showed through,” Kindler said Friday, according to the University of Oklahoma. “It was tough, and to come out on this side this year is really special.”

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