Ted Ligety stuns in World Cup Finals downhill; new overall leader

Ted Ligety
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Olympic giant slalom champion Ted Ligety posted his first career World Cup downhill podium at the opening race of the World Cup Finals in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, on Wednesday.

Ligety tied for second behind Austrian winner Matthias Mayer. Mayer, the Olympic downhill champion, prevailed in 1 minute, 29.99 seconds, .11 better than Ligety and Italian Christof Innerhofer.

Ligety, who doesn’t race much downhill anymore, finished in the top 10 of a World Cup downhill for the second time in his career. He also finished fourth in a Lenzerheide downhill in 2007.

“I knew entering today that I had a good chance on this kind of a hill,” Ligety said. “It’s not a typical downhill hill, so it suits kind of a guy that has more GS skills like me.”

The result pushed Ligety from fourth to third in the overall World Cup standings with three races left in Lenzerheide. Ligety leads France’s Alexis Pinturault by five points for third.

Ligety became the eighth man to earn World Cup podiums in all five disciplines — downhill, super-G, giant slalom, slalom and super combined — according to Infostrada.

“It’s nice to try to gain some points on Pinturault with third place, but that’s not really the important race here,” said Ligety, who is in second place in the giant slalom and has a small chance to move into first there Saturday. “To be on the podium in every single event now in my career is a pretty cool accomplishment.”

The race for the overall World Cup title remains tight.

Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal picked up 45 points with his fifth-place finish Wednesday. He had already clinched the season title in the downhill, so to finish off the podium wasn’t what he was looking for.

Svindal moved 41 points ahead of Austrian Marcel Hirscher in the overall standings. Svindal should increase that lead in Thursday’s super-G, but Hirscher is stronger in the giant slalom and slalom this weekend.

Svindal called it a 50-50 competition between him and Hirscher going forward.

“If I have to put money on someone, I have no idea who it would be,” Svindal said. “Hopefully it will be on me.”

Americans Travis Ganong and Bode Miller were sixth and eighth, respectively, on Wednesday. 

Miller, a six-time Olympic medalist, finished eighth in the season downhill standings after missing all of last season following knee surgery.

Ganong, 25, finished ninth in the downhill standings, continuing an ascent from 44th to 30th to 18th the previous three seasons.

Lenzerheide Downhill
1. Matthias Mayer (AUT) 1:29.99
2. Christof Innerhofer (ITA) 1:30.10
2. Ted Ligety (USA) 1:30.10
4. Peter Fill (ITA) 1:30.12
5. Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) 1:30.19
6. Travis Ganong (USA) 1:30.51
7. Sandro Viletta (SUI) 1:30.55
8. Bode Miller (USA) 1:30.61
9. Carlo Janka (SUI) 1:30.79
10. Adrien Theaux (FRA) 1:30.98

Final Downhill Standings
1. Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) — 570
2. Hannes Reichelt (AUT) — 360
3. Erik Guay (CAN) — 357
8. Bode Miller (USA) — 264
9. Travis Ganong (USA) — 250
26. Ted Ligety (USA) — 80

World Cup Finals preview