Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Ligety wins GS again at Soelden

Shiffrin rises to sixth in GS debut

Express Staff Writer

     U.S. Ski Team alpine ski racing stars Ted Ligety of Park City, Utah and Mikaela Shiffrin of Eagle/Vail, Colo. had great starts to the 2013-14 World Cup racing season Oct. 26-27 during the annual giant slalom openers at Soelden, Austria.

     Four-time Audi FIS World Cup giant slalom king Ligety, 29, pulled out a historic .79-second win Sunday for his 18th World Cup career victory to open the Olympic season. He became the first man to win three World Cup GS races in a row at Soelden.

     Shiffrin, 18, last year’s world slalom champion and World Cup slalom queen, skied into sixth place to lead the American women in Saturday’s GS. She equaled her career-best GS result with a fearless first run, followed by a strong performance on the tough steep section of the second run.

     On a sun-drenched day that caused the course to become slushy during the first run, seven-time U.S. national champion Ligety defeated Alexis Pinturault of France, with Austria’s Marcel Hirscher third.

     Those three podium racers also went 1-2-3 in last year’s final World Cup GS standings—Ligety winning with 720 points, Pinturault second with 575 and Hirscher third with 326.

     Two-time World Cup champion Bode Miller, 36, skied into the top-20 with a 19th-place finish in his first World Cup race since Feb. 2012. Teammate Tim Jitloff, 28, of Reno, Nev. placed right behind Miller in 20th place of 29 two-run finishers.

     Winning Saturday’s women’s GS by a sizable .84-second margin despite a huge mistake on the steeps was Lara Gut of Switzerland, for her first career World Cup GS triumph. U.S. Olympic giant slalom queen Julia Mancuso, 29, placed 27th.

     Ligety went from Soelden to New York City, where on Tuesday he was due to receive the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Olympic Sportsman of the Year Award, a part of the “100 Days Out to Sochi,” festivities.

     Last February at Schladming, Austria, Ligety became the first racer in 45 years to win three gold medals at the FIS World Alpine Championships when he captured super giant slalom, super combined and giant slalom victories.

     His effort enabled the U.S. to win the final medals count—the first time a non-European country led the official medals count at worlds.

     Next: The World Cup travels to Levi, Finland for slalom races, the women taking the hill Saturday, Nov. 16 followed by the men on Sunday, Nov. 17.

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