Olympic champion Ted Ligety showed no rust, winning the first World Cup race he entered since Sochi on Saturday to accomplish a feat no man has ever done in ski racing.
Ligety won a giant slalom in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, for a sixth time. No other man has won six times in the same discipline at one venue in their careers.
“This hill is definitely a really cool hill, has so much personality and it’s a really fun hill to ski,” Ligety said. “It has steep parts. It has rolls. It has a little bit of a gliding section. It’s a hill that’s a true GS skier’s hill.”
Ligety clocked a two-run time of 2 minutes, 30.80 seconds to hold off Austrian Benjamin Raich by .18 of a second. Raich jumped from 17th place after the first run. Norwegian Henrik Kristoffersen was third.
American Tim Jitloff was eighth, the fifth time he’s made a World Cup top 10 in his career. Six-time Olympic medalist Bode Miller was 24th.
Ligety moved into second place in the season standings in the giant slalom, 50 points behind Austrian leader Marcel Hirscher. Hirscher was fourth Saturday, and if he’s third or better in the World Cup Finals giant slalom next week he’s assured of winning the season title.
Hirscher made the podium in the first six giant slalom races this season before Saturday’s near miss.
“Now the GS title isn’t so far away, but it’s still kind of far away, especially with the mistakes I’ve made so far this year,” said Ligety, who has won the giant slalom season title four of the last six years. “Wins are always important, even if they don’t go for the title.”
Hirscher also made gains in the overall standings race as he seeks to become the third man to win three straight titles and the first since American Phil Mahre from 1981-83.
Hirscher is now 41 points behind leader Aksel Lund Svindal and should gain even more, if not pass Svindal, in Sunday’s slalom in Kranjska Gora. After that, the final four races of the season are at the World Cup Finals in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, next week.
Ligety is in fourth in the overall standings with no realistic shot at the overall title, but he’s got that Olympic gold, which “makes you feel more happy about your season, but it doesn’t really change anything in the World Cup races,” Ligety said after the first run Saturday, according to The Associated Press.
Kranjska Gora Giant Slalom
1. Ted Ligety (USA) 2:30.80
2. Benjamin Raich (AUT) 2:30.98
3. Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR) 2:31.05
4. Marcel Hirscher (AUT) 2:31.43
5. Fritz Dopfer (GER) 2:31.58
6. Roberto Nani (ITA) 2:31.78
7. Mathieu Faivre (FRA) 2:31.88
8. Tim Jitloff (USA) 2:32.01
9. Steve Missillier (FRA) 2:32.12
10. Marcus Sandell (FIN) 2:32.39
24. Bode Miller (USA) 2:33.53