Ligety destroys the field in near perfect first run and holds on to win WC GS

American Ted Ligety produced a devastating first run to give the rest of the field plenty to think about between the two runs in Alta Badia. Ligety had a commanding 2.40 second lead after the first run and held on to win by just over two seconds from Marcel Hirscher and Thomas Fanara in third. This win places Ligety joint fourth on the Overall list of Giant Slalom winners and the was based on a commanding first run that Ligety felt he “had more grip than maybe any of the other racers” to carve out a lead of 2.40 seconds.

Ligety was in a class of his own yet felt that “It didn’t feel like anything super crazy, but I had good grip and was able to get good early pressure and arc, but I’m surprised to get that kind of margin,” he said after the first run. “The first run was definitely confusing for me and a lot of guys as to why I was so fast,” Ligety emphasized after the second run.

By the time he came into the start gate, Ligety had already made the decision that he had to attack as normal so that he did not make a mistake and lose a lot of time. With the skiing world watching this master class, Ligety pushed out the start. Two mistakes that saw his inside hand on the snow had the watching crowd draw breath but by the time that he had crossed the finish line in the sun at the bottom of the course, Ligety had enough time to play with. This was his third win and fourth podium of the season, matching his record for last season.

Marcel Hirscher explained after the race that he would now have to go away and look at the video and see how he could ski like Ligety. “The angles that he gets are amazing,” the Austrian reflected. Hirscher had asked Ligety on Austrian TV between the runs how he had done a time like that and Ligety coolly replied that he was a surprised as everybody else!

For Thomas Fanara the race saw him injure his shoulder again and he will now be looking to get it operated on before the Giant Slalom tour resumes in Adelboden in the new year. Fanara had wrapped his arm around a gate on the first run yet this did not stop him from attacking the second run to take a commanding lead. “I knew that I only needed to beat one racer to make the podium but I was not sure whether I had done enough,” Fanara explained after the race.

With Aksel Lund Svindal battled his way down to ninth place to add more points for the Overall and Mathieu Faivre benefited from starting the second run first to place tenth, a career best result in the World Cup. Faivre had held the lead at the start of the second run until the 14th racer came down, Davide Simoncelli. After the race Benni Raich, Ivica Kostelic and many of the other racers could only stand and watch in awe as Ligety was able to make a number of mistakes that scrubbed speed off yet still was able to get angles that others were unable to. “He is certainly in great form at the moment,” Raich explained and Kostelic echoed those thoughts yet due to the state of his knees, Kostelic did not think he would be able to replicate the angles “though the younger guys might be able to!” Kostelic added.

When asked how this performance of Ligety affects the Giant Slalom World Cup, Aksel Lund Svindal, himself top of the points in the Overall, said that this shows “he is No. 1 in the world, but he’s No. 1 in the world by (a huge) margin.” With many of the top Giant Slalom racers going away to lick their wounds and watch the video of Ligety, Ligety himself, admitted that there were still mistakes that he wants to iron out!