Ligety Takes Win at Soelden GS
SOELDEN, Austria (Oct. 25, 2015)—In front of a packed crowd, Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) reminded ski racing fans of his giant slalom skills at the opening Audi FIS Ski World Cup race, taking his fourth win in Soelden, Austria. It was a stacked podium, with Thomas Fanara of France and Marcel Hirscher of Austria finishing under two-tenths behind Ligety, in second and third place respectively.
A year ago on the Rettenbach glacier, Hirscher set the tone for his 2014-15 season of collecting small and large crystal globes by claiming a decisive victory in the giant slalom opener as Ted Ligety finished a disappointing 10th. But the tallies refresh anew every year in Soelden, and Ligety is back on top after claiming a nail-biting victory over Fanara and Hirscher.
Mastering the lower flat by carrying speed off the pitch and then gliding through the final gates on the course was something Ligety learned from Swiss great Didier Cuche in 2009.
“That’s the most crucial part of this hill, that bottom flat because you can lose a little bit of time on the pitch as long as you can carry that speed across the flat,” said Ligety. “I learned my lesson the opposite way back in the day with Cuche – I had beat him by seven-tenths on the pitch and he crushed me by eight-tenths on the flat, and so learning from that and knowing that … that’s something I’ve been able to do over the last couple of years.”
Ted Ligety celebrates in the finish after taking the first victory of the season. (Getty Images/Agence Zoom-Michel Cottin)
With Ligety’s 24th career giant slalom victory, he officially passed Michael von Gruenigen (with whom he was tied heading into the race) on the all-time record board in second place for World Cup wins in the discipline behind Ingemar Stenmark’s 46. The American held a 0.17-second lead over Hirscher heading into an action-packed second run that kept fans on the edge of their seats.
During Ligety’s second run, his 0.33-second advantage over Fanara evaporated as he lost elevation in the middle of the pitch, and he was dead even with the Frenchman two splits from the end of the course. Working his magic on the lower flat, he miraculously made up 0.15 seconds by the time he crossed the finish line.
“It gets dark in the second run and there are some holes and it doesn’t feel good, but you just have to remember to try to keep yourself going down the hill and work for a little bit of speed when you can and try to survive in other places,” said Ligety. “I guess I found the right combination of that today.”
Tim Jitloff (Reno, NV) was the only other American to qualify for the second run. He finished the day in 17th, a career-best result for him at the venue with which he confessed he’s “never had a very good relationship.”
The Ted Ligety Fan Club from Saxony, Germany was present at the race to cheer on the American. (USSA-Tom Kelly)
Rounding out the Americans, Tommy Ford (Bend, OR) was 40th, Kieffer Christianson was 48th and Hig Roberts (Steamboat Springs, CO) was 57th in his first World Cup. Nick Cohee (Gardnerville, NV) did not finish.
The guys now shift their focus to the opening slalom race of the season in Levi, Finland, scheduled for Nov. 15.
- Ted Ligety won the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup opener in Soelden, Austria. This was his fourth win and seventh podium in Soelden.
- This was Ligety’s 24th career giant slalom victory, which means he officially passed Michael von Gruenigen on the all-time record board in second place for World Cup wins in the discipline behind Ingemar Stenmark’s 46.
- Tim Jitloff cracked the top 20, finishing 17th.
- Watch a replay of the race on Universal Sports at 9:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.
Every year, Soelden is always tough. It’s always super bumpy and never feel-good. This year the snow was especially difficult to get a good feeling on. The second run it’s always dark, as well. There are some big bomb holes in there, so I just try and survive those. I definitely got thrown off the line a few times up there, but I know the last couple turns on the pitch you gotta carry the speed onto the flats and that’s something I’ve been able to do really well the last couple years. I learned that from [Didier] Cuche because I was seven-tenths up on him one year and then he blew me out in the bottom flats, as well. That flat is just as important as the steep and it’s easy to win and lose the race down there.
The first race is always a bit of a mystery. Soelden in a lot of ways feels like a championship or the Olympics because it has this added anxiety—it’s the first race of the year and you don’t know where you stand. Definitely a lot more nervous than maybe your average World Cup. I think that helps me in some instances and also is a good gauge for me. It’s nice to start off the season well and get the ball rolling—get some confidence for the rest of the races—but at the same time, it’s a long time until the next race. There’s still a lot of work to do, especially when you don’t have a comfortable victory like today. Today it was a tight one, so I know that there’s still a lot of work to be had, but I want to stay close to this.
I still want to ski race for a bunch more years and I still think I have a lot more years left. I still have a lot of goals, for sure: I think winning the overall title is my biggest career goal—it’s every ski racer’s career goal—but I never really wanted to be a specialist growing up. I’ve done well in all the disciplines at some point or another, but I haven’t been able to piece together a full season. I’m definitely an outside contender—I wouldn’t consider myself as one of the favorites for the overall, but it’s definitely a goal.
This place—we haven’t gotten along in a long time! The first run, that’s on me. I skied really well on top and I had a great plan do be just pretty solid down the pitch, but it was way too conservative. At this level, you can’t lose that kind of time and make those kind of judgment errors. That second run, I tried to hammer it. I had a few mistakes. It’s an OK start and we’ve got a lot of season left, so I expect myself to pull my boots back up here as I get going back to Beaver Creek, to a hill I want to do very well on.
I’m planning on Lake Louise right now. I’m going to go in and do a five/six day camp with Ted and some of the French, I think, at Copper and then head up to Lake Louise. We’ll do one run of the downhill training and then jump into the super G. I want to be committed; I want to do every single super G. I love that event. This summer I focused a lot on speed stuff in Chile to try and learn some of those smaller details that maybe I’ve kind of lacked in. I want to put the proper effort into that event this year.
Men’s giant slalom results
On-site details provided by SkiRacing.com.