There are races that you remember and there are races that are forgettable. This was a race that Mr GS will have etched in the memory of all those that made the trek up the hill from St Moritz. The conditions were gnarly … and not great but this was where the men raced and super heroes are remembered: Ligety stormed out to a 1.28 second lead after the first run and then backed it up to beat Marcel Hirscher by over a second and a half. Yes you read that correct! For the record Alexis Pinturault took third after being in second place after the first run.
With more fresh snow having arrived over night and the fog still lingering around, there were a few delays during the day but this did not deter Ligety from posting a soul destroying first run lead over the rest of the field. Ligety grew up in the hills of Park City and spent his early years skiing all the terrain that he could: bumps, gnarly slopes and more. It was this early grounding that he felt helped him to better the rest of the field in this last race before the Winter Olympics start. As for how he eeked out such a time difference he felt that maybe this was due to the fact that he skied a little more rounder than others for these conditions.
At the top of the second run, even after a delay caused by fog with fifteen racers to go, Ligety was focused. He had seen Svindal crash out half way down, handing the lead in the Overall back to Hirscher. Ligety had also seen the Attacking Vikings take a grip on the podium with Haugen, Kristoffersen and Jansrud setting up camp with half the field down. None of this fazed the American. A small error on the top of the course where he caught his hand in a gate had the neutrals gasping but he just moved on and tore into the time set by Hirscher in the finish.
Hirscher must have thought that after all the work he has admitted to doing on his Giant Slalom that he was getting closer to Mr GS before this race. In the last few races Hirscher has pulled away from Ligety in the race for the GS Crystal Globe. A win in this race for Hirscher would have all but secured him the Globe. Hirsher, going third last, tore the lead away from Mats Ollson in the finish by over a second. Pinturault, who won the race in Garmisch last year (this was the replacement race for that race), has not won in GS this season and could not match the time set by Hirscher.
The stage was set for another epic Ligety against Hirscher battle and with the odds stacked against the Austrian, Ligety even extended the lead he had at the start of the run. It was not quite poetry in motion as the weather ruined the view but this was one of the great races of the year.
Ligety will race in three races in Sochi, Hirscher two. Hirscher will take time to go and get some rest, Ligety was coy about his plans! It is all shaping up to be an epic set of races in Sochi!