GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany – Ted Ligety got another piece of evidence supporting the fact that he leads the world in giant slalom skiing. The name for it is world GS champion, but the title did not come easily in the tricky conditions that made up the 2011 championship race in Garmisch-Partenkirchen on Friday.
Ligety, fourth after the first run, shot down the second run to victory with a total time of 2 minutes, 10.56 seconds. After landing his first ever World Cup win in the Adelboden GS a few weeks ago, France’s Cyprien Richard nearly caught the American in the second run, nabbing the silver medal, just 0.08 seconds back and Austria’s Philipp Schoerghofer, who just won his first World Cup race right before coming to Garmisch, skied two fast runs for the bronze medal, 0.43 seconds back.
Due to fog that once again settled on the Kandahar slope on Friday, officials shortened the GS course but visibility was challenging and the snow spring-like and tricky.
“Today was tough. It’s not easy being one of the favorites and to perform under those conditions,” said Ligety, who leads the World Cup GS standings and has twice won the GS globe – last year and in 2008. “With the fog, it’s good we didn’t run from the top, but the top section was my specialty, being a little steeper up there and I knew with this long flat I had to be good on the top setion. I had a good first and second run on the top section. I was lucky not to lose too much on the bottom.”
Ligety adds this medal to his Olympic gold from the 2006 combined and also his bronze in the world champs GS in 2006. Although being a world champion doesn’t come with quite as big a show as Olympic champion, he said coming in under a world of pressure and still pulling it off makes this gold especially meaningful. Ligety nailed a trio of huge GS victories on the World Cup earlier this season, and though his last two GS races didn’t go so well, he leads the GS standings and was the favorite coming into Garmisch.
“Winning the world championships when you’re the favorite is a lot more difficult than being a surprise victor, so it’s pretty special to be able to handle that pressure and win,” Ligety said. “I knew what my mindset was those first three races, and I just tried to get back to that and ski with certainty and attack and that’s what I did.”
Richard, who was a key component in France’s gold medal in the team event earlier this week in Garmisch, was glowing with his silver medal – won on conditions that were also not his strength and putting down a very fast second run, in particular. He said that he knows he can find the hundredths needed to get gold next time.
“My goal, I said a lot of times, is to stay at a high level in all conditions, on all pistes,” Richard said. “I knew the snow is very wet, it’s spring conditions here. It’s always tough for us to ski fast in these conditions because usually we are training on the ice and harder snow. I’m proud to have done this here. I’m happy to win in Adelboden and now in a big event at Garmisch. I’m just eight hundredths behind Ted Ligety. He’s a big champion, but maybe I could beat him at the next world championships.”
Schoerghofer, whose coach set the second run course in Garmisch on Friday, has had a memorable couple of weeks, landing his first Cup victory in the Hinterstoder GS just before Garmisch and now winning the bronze medal, which he said he would sleep with Friday night … if sleeping were on his agenda.
“Tonight I don’t sleep. I’m going to have a big party,” said the Austrian, who also landed his first Cup podium here in Garmisch last season. “It’s unbelievable. Two weeks ago I win my first World Cup race and now I have a bronze medal in GS … a dream come true.”
Schoerghofer added that while it is unfortunate that the Austrian men’s technical team has lost some of its top contenders this season, with Hannes Reichelt, Marcel Hirscher and now Benjamin Raich all out with injury, he is still focused on what he can do.
“It’s very bad for our team to have a lot of people who have injuries, but skiing is a one-man show, so I’m happy for Austria and I’m most happy for me,” he said. “I’m focused on the race and not on injuries.”
The race was tight after the first run (set by Switzerland) on Friday, with Schoerghofer trailing Aksel Lund Svindal by just 0.05 seconds and World Cup overall leader Ivica Kostelic, Ligety, Didier Cuche and Carlo Janka all within a half a second coming into run No. 2.
Svindal could not maintain his speed in the second run, however, like many other racers, losing a lot on the bottom part of the course. He ended up just out of the medals, fourth and 0.49 seconds off of Ligety’s winning time. His teammate, Kjetil Jansrud, was fifth, 0.73 seconds back, France’s Thomas Fanara sixth, 0.76 seconds back and Janka, who won the GS title in 2009 and missed the world champs downhill and super-combined races in Garmisch to rest up for Friday’s race, was leading during his run but dropped all of his speed at the bottom of the course and finished seventh, 0.92 seconds back. Cuche also failed to hold his speed in the second run, finishing eighth, 0.93 seconds back. France’s Gauthier de Tessieres was ninth, 0.94 seconds back and Finland’s Marcus Sandell 10th, 1.10 seconds back.
Kostelic, who also opted out of the world champs downhill and super-combined races following his bronze medal performance in the super G, fell to 13th place in Friday’s race, tying Swiss racer Justin Murisier and following Romed Baumann and Bode Miller, who put down the fastest second run of the day (1:07.82) after finishing 24th in the first run.
Go here for video with the medalists.
Click here for full results from Friday’s race.
by Shauna Farnellfirstname.lastname@example.org