Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Ted Ligety, back from injuries, notches first podium in two years

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Olympic giant slalom champion Ted Ligety ended the longest U.S. men’s podium drought in 19 years and a personal drought of more than two years on Sunday.

Just in time with the Olympics in two weeks.

Ligety, who ended his last two seasons early due to injuries, finished third in the last World Cup giant slalom before the Olympics in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

Austrian Marcel Hirscher won by 1.57 seconds over countryman Manuel Feller. Ligety was 1.69 back.

Full results are here.

Hirscher, the overwhelming Olympic favorite, has won four of the five traditional GS races this season and made all 13 World Cup GS podiums since the start of the 2016-17 season.

“The only thing I can do there [at the Olympics] is losing,” Hirscher, the six-time World Cup overall champion whose only missing prize is Olympic gold, laughed after his 10th win this season, “because everyone is expecting that I’m going to win there.”

Hirscher also won his 55th career World Cup race, passing countryman Hermann Maier for solo second all-time on the men’s list behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark (86 victories).

It was Ligety’s first podium since Dec. 5, 2015.

Ligety dealt with myriad injuries since winning his second Olympic gold in Sochi and a third straight world title in the giant slalom in 2015.

The 33-year-old suffered three herniated disks in his back and tore a hip labrum in 2015. Then he tore his right ACL in training on Jan. 27, 2016. He underwent season-ending back surgery on Jan. 25, 2017.

The last U.S. man to make a World Cup podium was Travis Ganong, who won a downhill in Garmisch on Jan. 27, 2017. Ganong is out for the season due to a December torn ACL.

“There’s still some things to do,” Ligety said, according to U.S. Ski & Snowboard. “It’s nice that we have a couple of weeks here before the giant slalom at the Olympics, so we can figure out those next steps. We’re still a little bit off, and I have to find that next step and be really fast. I’m not going to sit here and be psyched on this — I’m going to move forward and keep working.”

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Travis Ganong ends World Cup drought; Steven Nyman’s season over

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Travis Ganong ended the U.S.’ longest drought between men’s World Cup wins since 2000, while teammate Steven Nyman‘s season is over after he was airlifted off the downhill course after crashing in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, on Friday.

Ganong prevailed by .38 of a second over Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud to notch the first U.S. men’s World Cup win in any discipline since Oct. 25, 2015.

RACE RESULTS | RACE REPLAY

Nyman, the top American downhiller since the Sochi Olympics, crashed into safety netting on his run and was transported by helicopter off the course.

“My season is over but aside from my knee everything is okay,” was posted on Nyman’s social media. “Time for some surgery and healing. I WILL BE BACK!”

Ganong and Nyman are the only U.S. men to make a World Cup downhill podium the last three seasons. In 2016, the U.S. went a calendar year without a men’s World Cup win in any discipline for the first time since 1999.

With Ted Ligety‘s season-ending surgery and no other top racers in technical events, downhill is currently the U.S. men’s best event going into the world championships in two weeks in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Even with Nyman’s absence.

Nyman, 34 and a three-time Olympian, has posted seven of his 11 career World Cup podiums since the Sochi Olympics, all in downhill.

Ganong, 28, enjoyed a fifth-place finish in his Olympic debut in the Sochi downhill, made his first World Cup podium later that month and won his first World Cup race in December 2014.

Ganong followed that up with a surprise world championships downhill silver medal in Beaver Creek, Colo., in February 2015. He struggled in recent months, though. Before Friday, his last top-five on the World Cup came in November 2015.

The men race another downhill Saturday (live on NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app at 6 a.m. ET).

PHOTOS: Vonn avoids serious injury in training crash

Lindsey Vonn ninth in Garmisch super-G, eyes ‘revenge’ at worlds

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Lindsey Vonn finished ninth in a World Cup super-G in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, on Sunday and called it “a good first step” in her first super-G since returning from knee and arm injuries.

Vonn was 1.65 seconds slower than Swiss Lara Gut, who won after finishing second to Vonn in Saturday’s downhill. Full results are here.

Returning from a fractured knee and broken upper arm, Vonn’s previous two races were both downhills, starting with a 13th-place finish in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee, last Sunday.

“Like in the downhill in Zauchensee, it took me one race to really get into it,” Vonn said. “I think today was positive. I didn’t ski my best. I had some trouble with the ice, but I will train some more.”

The women’s World Cup continues with a giant slalom in Kronplatz, Italy, on Tuesday, which Vonn is expected to skip.

Vonn, competing this month for the first time since last February, is next expected to race a downhill and super-G in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, on Saturday and Sunday and then the world championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland, in early February.

The last time worlds was in St. Moritz, in 2003, Vonn did not make the U.S. team at age 18, when she was known as Lindsey Kildow.

At that time, her best World Cup result was 23rd. However, Vonn had placed sixth in the 2002 Olympic combined, the only top 10 for the U.S. women at those Winter Games and the best Alpine finish by an American that young in Olympic history.

“My coaches didn’t think I was good enough,” Vonn said Sunday. “Now, I get my revenge. I get my second chance, and I hope I can prove everyone wrong.”

From the Denver Post in 2004:

Kildow lost a big chunk of last season when she caught a tip on a gate in the season’s first downhill at Lake Louise, Alberta, causing a severe strain of the hip flexor muscles in her left leg. Kildow had to be airlifted from the mountain.

‘It was pretty bad,’ Kildow said. ‘I thought I had ripped my leg off.’

The injury didn’t require surgery, but it kept her out of action for a month. When she returned, coaches kept her on the developmental Europa Cup for six weeks rather than rush her back into the World Cup, making it impossible for her to qualify for the world championships at St. Moritz, Switzerland.

‘After coming off sixth (place) in the Olympics, it would have been nice to race in the world championships because I definitely was skiing at that level,’ Kildow said. ‘I thought I had a chance of getting a podium.’

Gut came into the weekend 315 points behind U.S. Olympic slalom champion Mikaela Shiffrin in the standings for the World Cup overall title, the biggest annual prize in ski racing. She leaves Garmisch having sliced Shiffrin’s lead to 135 points.

Gut and Shiffrin’s battle for the overall title could come down to the World Cup Finals in Aspen, Colo., in mid-March. Though Gut’s chances increase if Shiffrin continues to sit out speed races.

MORE: Vonn sets date on proposal to enter men’s race