Catch me if you can – Ligety disappears in Beaver Creek

A confident Marcel Hirscher was quoted as saying that he was happy that he was close to Ted Ligety at the end of the first run. After the second run, yes he was closer than he had been in Soelden but Ligety was still 1.76 seconds ahead of Hirscher. Hirscher, the defending GS World Cup Winner from last season, simply commeneted: “Ted is Mr GS, yes why not!” This was a commanding win. Start number one and last man down on the second run. Fastest on the first run and second fastest on the second, Ligety ets his skiing do the talking. After he won in Soelden, Ligety said that there was little point in him winging about the new skis, he knew he had to learn about the skis and realised that he had to get in the gym and make himself stronger. This is what he has done and boy has he shown the rest of the Men’s GS field how much they have to do if they are to catch him up. Hirscxher feels that it could be a long time before this happens, Ligety not so sure about the time it will take them.

Beaver Creek is some six hours drive away from Ligety’s home in Park City yet a lot of people made the trip down for him, to support him. The man from Park City appreciated this and saidf that he hoped he had given them something to cheer. Yet had you seen his shake of the head after his first run, you could have thought that Ligety was not happy with the first run. Phillip Schoerghofer, next down and one of the fancied Austrians, could not get closer than 1.82 seconds off the Americans time. Ligety had made a few small mistakes but the way he let the skis run and carved turns, yes carved the new skis around the turns, was a sight to see. Hirscher and Simoncelli were the closest to but the top thirty were spread out by almost four seconds for the second run.

It has not been a great start to the season for Team Austria. The country with ski racing in their blood are still waiting for their first male win. it hurt them seeing Ligety come to Austria and destroy the rest of the field by such a huge margin. Some of the old guard are not yet performing to their expected standards and when Matthias Mayer, Christoph Noesig and Marcel Mathis put in tremendous performances at the start of the second run, it looked as if someone had told them they were fighting for their start positions in the World Cup. Noesig put in a run that would be the fastest on the second run.

As the racers came and went, Noesig held on to the lead. It took the wily old fox, Max Blardone to dislodge the young Austrian from the top spot and then only just, 0.03seconds. Next up though was Aksel Lund Svindal. With two wins in Lake Louise and two runners up spots in the opening two Beaver Creek races, Svindal was on a role. The first run by the big Norwegian had not been great: he looked lethargic and tired after a long week. the second run could not have been more different: He looked strong and was fighting for every hundredth: it was a ballsy run. By the bottom it was rewarded with a lead over Blardone and the young Austrians.

Svindal would stay in the lead until five racers to go. Some of the big names in the sport had failed to match the Norwegian and Manny Moelgg needed almost all of his first run advantage to unseat the Norwegian from the leaders box. The lead had gone from 1.07 to Moelgg down to just 0.19. If Moelgg thought he was going to be able to back up his second in Soelden with another podium, Alexis Pinturault ruined it for him as he took the lead. Pinturault is a classic case of Finesse versus Braun. He skis so smoothly when you look at the braun of the likes of Svindal.Then Davide Simoncelli came down and ruined it for the frenchman. It has been six years since Simoncelli has won a race and many were hoping that he could make it a third win for the Italian team.

Marcel Hirscher was not reading that script and despite a slight deviation from the racing line near the top, he put his cards down and could only watch as Ligety gave him a master class. At each split Ligety extended the lead. It soon became a case of not if he would win but by how much. If you get the chance to watch the runs on YouTube soon, take it. This was a man who was in tune with his kit; who had worked out what was needed during the summer and had gone out and done what was needed.

The rules are there and yes the skis may not make the skiers look good or feel good for the racers. But the rules are there. Ligety has adjusted his skiing and while he had done the full compliment of races in Beaver Creek, he still looked dialed in and fast for both runs.

Next week in Val d’Isere, back on European snow, round three takes place.

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