The idyllic Swiss mountain resort of St. Moritz has long catered to the elite, but the level of elite displayed by Ted Ligety in conditions that nearly scuttled the World Cup giant slalom much like it had Saturday’s downhill, was nothing short of magnificent. Ligety scorched the first run in falling snow and thick fog taking the first half lead by 1.28 seconds.
In the second run, delayed by the fog before it started and again with 11 racers still left to ski, Ligety added to that margin, flying away with a 1.51-second victory over Marcel Hirscher with Alexis Pinturault in third, 1.69 back. Past the podium, the rest of the field was more than two seconds behind, seemingly in a different race than the one Ligety ran.
Truth be known, the course was just as difficult for Ligety who said, “That was a bumpy ride. It’s so tough when you can’t see anything; it just makes it that much more tiring. That was a hack-fest battle, for sure, so I’m glad that I was actually able to make it to the finish line, let alone win.”
He alone was able to ski the Corviglia course the way he wanted, generating his characteristic low angles, starting high in the turns and letting his ski run out, generating speed all the way. And while the others dealt with a soft course that got chewed up mercilessly, Ligety’s style found a cleaner track on a day when a clear track meant everything.
“Generally the way I ski is a little bit rounder than everybody else, try to make smoother, cleaner turns and not worry about the distance so much. I think when it’s like this and it’s so hacked up, that plays well for me because I kind of avoid some of those bigger holes,” noted Ligety.
The win, Ligety’s 21st and the fourth of the season, pushed him within five points of Pinturault in the giant slalom standings, though the result still leaves him 100 points behind Hirscher.
“It is really tough for all, but in general we have to thank them for making this race happen and making it as fair as it could be. I am sure it was not easy,” Hirscher said. “I am glad we raced today though as I heard the course is rather similar to the one in Sochi, so it was a good test before I head to the Games.”
Hirscher also moved into the lead of the overall standings when Aksel Lund Svindal failed to finish the second run. Svindal was one of the unfortunate skiers to run just before the fog settled in firmly to cause a delay in the midst of the race.
Absent from the challenge was German Felix Neureuther. He skipped the race in favor of resting his back just before the Olympics.
“In recent days I have had to treat my back, my back needs a break,” said Neureuther. “This is due to the many racing trips under full commitment.” He waited until the day before the race to make the final call, but he decided to prioritize the Olympics instead of chasing World Cup points. “It’s all right, but with a view of the Games I just do not want to take any chances,” he said.
In an impressive battle from the back, Norwegian Marcus Monsen moved from the 65th start position to finish 26th in his World Cup debut. The 18-year-old member of the Europa Cup squad didn’t even have a Norwegian World Cup suit for the race, a detail now likely to change before his next outing on the circuit.
Tim Jitloff, the only North American other than Ted Ligety in the second run, ultimately finished 17th. Canadian Phil Brown just missed out of second run in 31st, .06 seconds off of qualifying.
Men’s World Cup giant slalom, St. Moritz, Switzerland, Feb. 2, 2014
Equipment – Skier, skis/boots/bindings
1 Ligety, Head/Head/Head
2 Hirscher, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
3 Pinturault, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
4 Olsson, Nordica/Nordica/
5 Schoerghofer, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
7 Muffat-Jeandet, Dynastar/Look/
8 Dopfer, Nordica/Nordica/
9 Haugen, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
10 Fanara, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
Men’s World Cup giant slalom, St. Moritz, Switzerland, Feb. 2, 2014. … It is the 25th race of the men’s 34 race 2014 World Cup schedule. … The sixth of eight scheduled GS’s. … It is a race rescheduled from Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
It is the 21st career World Cup win for Ted Ligety… his fourth of the season. … It is his 20th World Cup GS win, a U.S. record. … He is fourth all-time for GS wins, one behind Vreni Schneider. … It is the 266th U.S. World Cup win and the seventh of the season. Ted is fourth all-time among Americans behind Lindsey Vonn, Bode Miller and Phil Mahre for World Cup victories.
It is the 57th career World Cup podium for Marcel Hirscher. … his 14th of the season.
It is the 20th career World Cup podium for Alexis Pinturault. … his sixth of the season.
Tim Jitloff matches his ninth best career World Cup placing… his third best of the season.
Leif Kristian Haugen matches his third best finish of the season.
Three skiers score their first World Cup points: Dominik Schwaiger (bib 54), Stefan Brennsteiner (bib 62) and Marcus Monsen (bib 65).
Marcel Hirscher takes over the lead of the World Cup overall standings 955-897 over Aksel Lund Svindal (DNF in race). … Alexis Pinturault is third with 774pts. Ligety is fourth with 629pt and Bode Miller (DNF in race) eighth with 449pts. … Erik Guay is top Canadian overall in 23rd place with 261pts.
Hirscher leads the GS standings 460-365 over Pinturault. … Ligety is third at 360pts. … Trevor Philp leads Canada in 48th place with 5pts.
Austria leads the men’s Nations Cup 3974-2786 over France. … Italy is third with 2187pts. …The U.S. moves up to fifth with 1660pts and Canada is ninth with 748pts.
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points|
|9||13||421669||HAUGEN Leif Kristian||1987||NOR||1:21.77||1:20.81||2:42.58||+3.83||21.47|
|28||24||990116||DE ALIPRANDINI Luca||1990||ITA||1:22.60||1:23.06||2:45.66||+6.91||38.74|
|Disqualified 1st run|
|49||422139||KILDE Aleksander Aamodt||1992||NOR|
|Did not qualify for 2nd run|
|71||491151||DE LA CUESTA Paul||1988||SPA|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|5||421328||SVINDAL Aksel Lund||1982||NOR|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|67||30149||SIMARI BIRKNER Cristian Javier||1980||ARG|
|66||561278||REICH – POGLADIC Andraz||1993||SLO|
|30||192504||MERMILLOD BLONDIN Thomas||1984||FRA|