If a certain brand of beer did ski races, this would be how they would finish! Ted Ligety needed to win the final Giant Slalom of the season with his rival and pre-race World Cup Giant Slalom series leader, Marcel Hirscher, … Â needing to be fourth or worse for the American to take the Giant Slalom Globe. In the end it came down to mere hundredths of a second. Ligety did what he had to do yet had to rely on Alexis Pinturault producing a brilliant second run to take second and first run leader edging out Hirscher by the slimmest of margins – 0.01 seconds. It was how Globes should be decided.
The different permutations after the first run were mind boggling but with Hirscher down in eighth place, Ligety was in second and this still gave advantage Hirscher by a scant two points. Neureuther led the field but with the spring snow in Lenzerheide starting to warm up and slow the racers down, any advantage the later racers had was being swallowed up lower down the course. Pinturault, down in 11th after the first run took the lead from the second racer down Luca di Aliprandini and it meant that the challenge was there. The scene was set for the tussle that would decide the season in Giant Slalom.
With Hirscher unable to overhaul the Frenchman and slotting into second, with each passing racer, the state of the race for the Globe both in Giant Slalom and for the Overall flashed up in the finish. With Aksel Lund Svindal having crashed out on the first run, Hirscher was assured of the Overall for the third straight year. With the Overall decided all eyes and attention was now on the Giant Slalom.
Olsson, Schoerghofer, Simoncelli, Nani and Dopfer all pushed at the top and then lost time on the final third to not affect the leaders in the finish, yet still Hirscher held on to second and if things stayed that way, he would have both the Overall and the Giant Slalom Globes. It was all down to Ligety and what he could do on the second run. If he was to play a part in the proceedings he had to cross the finish line with a lead, epecially as Neureuther still had to go.
Through both of the first two splits, he lead and then across the flat section leading to the finish, it looked like the speed was sucked out of him.
But as with all good thrillers, when he crossed the line the lead was just in credit, three hundredths. It was set up for a finale of all finales for the season results.
All eyes were on the clock and Neureuther. The German kicked out of the gate and by the first split, the lead was in Ligety’s favour by just two hundredths of a second, by the second it was four hundredths. It was now time to hold the breath and pray for which ever way your loyalties lay.
When he crossed the line, the number three flashed up and it was a while before people worked out that Ligety had won the Giant Slalom Globe by three hundredths from Pinturault and that the gap to Hirscher in fourth was just one hundredth from Neureuther. On account of the five wins, compared to Hirscher’s two wins meant that despite Ligety and Hirscher scoring the same number of points, Ligety would be taking the Globe for the fifth time with his 22nd career win in Giant Slalom.
Rainer Salzgener from Head spoke afterwards and felt that “after the bad luck that Ligety had suffered earlier this year that maybe God was on our side today!” Ligety saidÂ â€œIt feels pretty awesome to have the luck on my side today,â€ admitted Ligety.
This was win number 22 for Ligety and his fifth Globe and afterwards he explained what it felt like to win the Globe again: â€œI would say that the first one felt the greatest but this one is maybe second because it was so hard fought because of the scenario for it happen was so tight. After Adelboden I thought I would have no chance at all for the title. To get it surprises me but makes it all that much better.â€
For Hirscher the consolation was taking the Overall Globe and he still has the opportunity to take the Slalom Globe as well in the morning!
PICTURE: Ted Ligety with the spoils of the season in Giant Slalom, The Giant Slalom Globe. PICTURE CREDIT: ZOOM AGENCE