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Ted Ligety questions cancellation of World Cup race

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Can’t blame Ted Ligety for eagerly wanting to race the Alpine skiing season opener after overcoming two years’ worth of injuries to return to the World Cup circuit.

Ligety did not agree with canceling the giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, more than three hours before the scheduled start partially, based on a foreboding forecast. He aired frustration in a series of tweets.

The International Ski Federation (FIS) called off the race before 7 a.m. local time, citing 75 mph wind gusts and a forecast for worsening conditions later in the day. The first run was scheduled for 10 a.m. FIS later said that by midday the entire area had to be evacuated due to a storm.

“Seems odd to have a race cancelled at 645am in Austria when their biggest star is temporarily out,” Ligety tweeted at the FIS Alpine account early in the morning and in a separate tweet to his 88,000 followers.

Austria’s biggest star is six-time reigning World Cup overall champion Marcel Hirscher, who is sidelined indefinitely due to a broken left ankle suffered Aug. 17.

Before Ligety’s series of injuries, he battled Hirscher for giant slalom titles. The last two seasons, Hirscher has been largely unrivaled in the discipline.

Soelden, the traditional season opener, is never rescheduled, so the cancellation means Hirscher could return before missing any giant slaloms. The next GS is Dec. 3.

The World Cup giant slalom season title — which Ligety has won five times and Hirscher four — goes to the man who accumulates the most points from the nine scheduled World Cup races through March. With the Soelden cancellation, there will be eight.

Ligety just missed a big chance to get a leg up on Hirscher.

“It may be horrible weather up there, but when the president of the OSV [Austrian ski federation] is telling people it will be cancelled days in advance it smells fishy,” Ligety’s Twitter account continued. “I wanted the opportunity to try to race. + they don’t make this race up. Already less GS’s then SL&DH [slaloms and downhills scheduled this season]. A forecast is only a forecast not 100.”

Hirscher laughed at Ligety’s comment and agreed with the decision to cancel the race, according to Austrian media.

“A race wouldn’t have been possible today,” the Austrian federation posted on Facebook about an hour after Ligety’s initial tweet.

Austrian ski officials also reportedly dismissed Ligety’s tweets.

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MORE: Vonn: Women viewed as ‘second-rate’ on World Cup

Mikaela Shiffrin bumped off podium in Soelden; Lindsey Vonn struggles

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Mikaela Shiffrin opened the Olympic season with a rare costly mistake, getting bounced off her line and finishing fifth in a giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, on Saturday.

Lindsey Vonn was 34th and 3.31 seconds behind in the first run, where the top 30 advanced to a second run. Giant slalom is not one of her best disciplines.

German Viktoria Rebensburg, the 2010 Olympic GS champ, won by .14 of a second over France’s Tessa Worley after two runs. Italy’s Manuela Moelgg was third.

Shiffrin was .74 back in fifth, losing about one second in the first half of her second run, which included going well wide of that one gate. Shiffrin was second-fastest in the opening run, .12 behind Moelgg.

Full results are here.

“The biggest competition I have right now is with myself,” Shiffrin said, according to the U.S. Ski Team. “I feel really good with where my GS is right now. I’m disappointed because I didn’t make turns today like I know I can.”

Shiffrin, 22 and fifth in the Sochi Olympic GS, improved to become the world’s second-best GS skier last season behind Worley.

Vonn last raced giant slalom Jan. 30, 2016 and last won a GS on Dec. 12, 2015, her only finish better than fifth in a GS since January 2013.

She does hope to race GS in PyeongChang, where she should be a medal favorite in downhill and super-G.

“I just didn’t push myself enough. I was kind of too conservative where I could have let it go. But it was nice to get started,” Vonn said, according to USA Today. “I was wishing to get some points [by finishing in the top 30], but that’s life.”

Lara Gut (2016 World Cup overall champion) and Sofia Goggia (third in 2017 World Cup overall) skied out in the first run Saturday.

The start was moved down due to high winds.

Olympic champion Ted Ligety headlines the men’s field racing Soelden on Sunday. An Alpine broadcast schedule is here.

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MORE: Vonn: Women viewed as ‘second-rate’ on World Cup

Soelden Women’s Giant Slalom
1. Viktoria Rebensburg (GER) — 1:55.20
2. Tessa Worley (FRA) — +.14
3. Manuela Moelgg (ITA) — +.53
5. Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) — +.74
34. Lindsey Vonn (USA)
42. Megan McJames (USA)
47. Foreste Peterson (USA)

Skier goes airborne in World Cup opener (video)

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Canadian skier Phil Brown was fortunate to walk away from an airborne crash at the World Cup season opener in Soelden, Austria, on Sunday.

Brown failed to finish his first run, losing contact with the snow early on and falling hard onto his side.

He tweeted a video of the crash, with slow-motion replays, with a soundtrack of Irish singer Enya‘s “Only Time.”

The World Cup season continues with men’s and women’s slaloms in Levi, Finland, in three weeks.

MORE: Ted Ligety recovers to finish fifth in first race in 9 months