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.
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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