Ligety makes it Gold number three

Ted Ligety became the first man since Jean Claude Killy in 1968 to win three Gold medals in the same Word Championships* in winning the Giant Slalom World Championship. With a massive 1.30 second lead over Aksel Lund Svindal after the first run, the talk was whether Ligety could create another record in making the largest win in the World Championships. With Toni Sailer having won in 1958 with a massive 6.20 seconds, this was never on the cards. With Marcel Hirscher having struggled with skis on the first run, his second run, the fastest, brought him a silver medal as Svindal faded away for the second World Championship Giant Slalom in a row. Svindal slipped down to fourth with Manfred Moelgg coming up to take the bronze medal.

It is well known that Ligety came to the World Championships with Gold in the Giant Slalom as his primary goal. He now has the Super G and the Super Combined Gold medals in the bag as well. Having won four out of five World Cup races this winter, Ligety admitted that there was a certain amount of pressure on him to achieve the win the Giant Slalom as well. “If i did not win, I would feel it was some sort of failure,” Ligety admitted after the race. “I was feeling the nerves,” he added.

Ligety felt that his first run was good and smooth yet did not feel that his second run was good. “I was far from in control on the second run,” he admitted, “I tried not to let skis break and do not dictate where skis go but this can lead to some sloppy mistakes.”

With Hirscher having missed the bib draw last night due to back problems, he admitted that he had hardly slept due to the back issues. Having trained the day before and not found a pair of skis that he was happy with, Hirscher was up early trying to sort out skis. By the time he left the start gate, it looked like he was trying too hard to match the time that Ligety had set. Mistakes crept in and by the time he crossed the line after the first run, a gap of 1.31 seconds separated him and Ligety.

Hirscher gave it his all on the second run and where his first run was typical of a racer trying to hard, his second was relaxed and he carved the turns. The green light on the clock showed up and the lead in the finish area was solid and strong. While Svindal and then Ligety still had to come down, Hirscher was in the finish and had a guaranteed medal, Atomic’s first medal of the Championships.

Svindal had just a one hundredth of a second lead after the first run over Hirscher and by the first split he had extended this by another hundredth, then he slipped down and time ebbed away. By the time the big guy from Norway crossed the line, he was down to third of the finishers. With Ligety not having DNF’ed in a GS since 2009, Svindal was disappointed and a feeling of deja vu was on him. In 2011 after having lead the first run, Svindal slipped to fourth on the second run. Four hundredths in 2011, it was six hundredths that Moelgg had gone ahead by this time.

Ligety had 1.31 seconds on Hirscher after the first run. At the top two splits this grew and you could feel that you were watching, along with 36,000 others something special and history being made. This was great ski racing, albeit on the edge, Ligety admitted afterwards. Despite a small mistake on the final run in to the final, by the time Ligety crossed the line, the list of records read like this:

·         Shred is the fifth man in history to win three or more gold medals at one world championships and the first to do it in 45 years, since Jean-Claude Killy (FRA) won four in 1968.

·         The four men who have won three or more gold medals at one editionare: Toni Sailer (AUT, 4 – 1956 and 3 – 1958), Killy (4, 1968), Emile Allais (FRA, 3 – 1937) and Stein Eriksen (NOR, 3 – 1954).

·         Ligety is the first non-European man to achieve this feat.

·         Ligety is the first skier in world championships history, in either gender, to win the Super G, the giant slalom and the (super) combined at one world championships.

·         Ligety’s SG and SC wins at Schladming 2013 have come in disciplines in which he has never won on the World Cup tour. All 15 of his World Cup wins have come in giant slalom.

·         Ligety is the seventh man to win the giant slalom at two world championships and the first since Michael von Grünigen (SUI) in 2001.

·         Ligety is the sixth man to win the giant slalom at two consecutive world championships and the first since Rudolf Nierlich (AUT) in 1989-91.

·         Ligety has won four of the five giant slalom races on the World Cup tour this season and has been on the podium in all five races.

·         Ligety is the first USA skier, in either gender, to win the giant slalom gold medal twice at the world championships.

·         Ligety is the first American skier, in either gender, to win three gold medals at one world championships.

·         Ligety fourth career individual world championship gold ties Bode Miller’s USA record.

·         Ligety equals the USA record held by Miller, Vonn and Julia Mancuso with five World Championships medals.

Impressive stuff and the stuff dreams are made of.

Conor Lyne made the second run for the Irish team, from a start number of 98, the Irish racer who lives in America, finished a very creditable 52nd after having qualified for the second run in 55th spot.

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