Ted Ligety had a date with history. He arrived a little early.
Ligety had built a massive 1.30 second lead in the first run and seemed destine to complete the task and gain his third gold medal of the 42nd World Championship, becoming the first man of the modern era to win three at the same championship.
He got it, by .81, dashing the hopes and a brilliant effort from Marcel Hirscher, the silver medal winner. Italian GS specialist Manfred Moelgg got the bronze overtaking Norway’s great Aksel Lund Svindal in the second run for the medal.
The course was a bit tricky, the visibility as flat as we have come to expect at Schladming over the two weeks of competitions, and none of it seemed to matter.
Ligety, with his customary vicious angles, powered his way down the track, made recoveries which seemed to gain him time, and grabbed his fourth career World Championship gold medal and third of this meet. Bode Miller is the only other American with four World Championship gold medals.
“The second run was tough,” said Ligety, “running 30 it was really bumpy and the light was flat so I was trying to charge, but just when it gets bumpy like that it’s hard to make as clean a turns as I usually do. … I was glad I had that buffer.”
The buffer was a 1.3 second first run lead created with a Stivot or two and some beautifully arced turns down a cleaner track (he ran third) and in better light.
Between runs Ligety went through the usual routine, helped a bit by the location of the US team facility at the base of the Planai gondola. He got a little to eat, kept the muscles warm on the spin bike, and tried his best to relax. Certainly he felt the enormity of the moment, but the huge first run lead was a comfort.
He said the earlier medals, in events he had not won World Cups in (combined and super G) did not ease the pressure as much as increase it. “This medal,” he said of the GS gold, “was what I came here to do.”
Hirscher, with a radioed course report send by his father and most trusted coach, put down an attack that was dazzling and brought the 30,500 in the stands and thousands more along the side of the hill and in the Schladming streets, to their feet. The huge grand stand shook.
Hirscher’s second run lead increased through the first interval and was astounding on the final pitch where the crowd was loudest. He came into the warm embrace of his many fans with a .94 lead. Aksel Lund Svindal, who had been a beat ahead of the Austrian after the first heat, couldn’t touch Hirscher’s effort.
The race outdrew last weekend’s men’s downhill according to the organizers and most of the audience had come to watch Hirscher.
“It was maybe the toughest race I’ve ever competed in,” said Hirscher who has been much in demand all week by media. “At 3 oclock in the morning was thinking,” he said. In the morning he tested skis, unhappy with training the day before. He had been excused from the bib draw because he had hit a hole in training and was with a physical therapist. He also saw one between runs.
Skiing into the shaking stadium he said was “… so emotional to feel the crowd. It was amazing and I think around 50 percent wanted to see me catching a medal.”
He was glad to be able to deliver.
With Hirscher in the finish, and Svindal out of the running, it all came down to Ted. It was not a perfect run. But it started out that way as he built his 1.3 first run lead by a tenth and then another. Content he backed off just a touch, as he had said he might, and carried it home for the comfortable win.
Hirscher was the only one within a second of his time. Moelgg, the bronze medal winner, was 1.75 seconds back. Tenth place was another second back and 12th was three seconds out. Ligety had outclassed the field.
The win was absolutely historic. According to InfoStrata:
- Ligety is the fifth man in history to win three or more gold medals at one world championships and the first to do it in 45 years, since Jean-Claude Killy (FRA) won four in 1968.
- The four men who have won three or more gold medals at one edition are: Toni Sailer (AUT, 4 – 1956 and 3 – 1958), Killy (4, 1968), Emile Allais (FRA, 3 – 1937) and Stein Eriksen (NOR, 3 – 1954). Ligety is the first non-European man to achieve this feat.
- Ligety is the first skier in world championships history, of either gender, to win the Super G, the giant slalom and the (super) combined at one world championships.
- Ligety’s SG and SC wins at Schladming 2013 have come in disciplines in which he has never won on the World Cup tour. All 15 of his World Cup wins have come in giant slalom.
- Ligety is the seventh man to win the giant slalom at two world championships and the first since Michael von Grünigen (SUI) in 2001.
- Ligety is the sixth man to win the giant slalom at two consecutive world championships and the first since Rudolf Nierlich (AUT) in 1989-91.
- Ligety has won four of the five giant slalom races on the World Cup tour this season and has been on the podium in all five races.
- Ligety is the first USA skier, in either gender, to win the giant slalom gold medal twice at the world championships.
- Ligety is the first American skier, in either gender, to win three gold medals at one world championships.
- Ligety fourth career individual world championship gold ties Bode Miller’s USA record.
- Ligety equals the USA record held by Miller, Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso with five World Championships medals.
by Hank McKee
Men’s World Championship Giant Slalom, Schladming, Austria, Feb. 15, 2013.
1 Ligety, Head/Head/Head
2 Hirscher, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
3 Moelgg, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
4 Svindal, Head/Head/Head
5 Pinturault, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
6 Simoncelli, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
7 Dopfer, Nordica/Nordica/Marker
8 Schoerghofer, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
9 Raich, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
10 Neureuther, Nordica/Nordica/Marker
Men’s World Championship Giant Slalom, Schladming, Austria, Feb. 15, 2013. … It is the eighth of ten races (plus the team event) of the championship, the fourth for men. … It is the 48th giant slalom championship race and 24th for men. … Ted Ligety is the defending champion. … Rudi Nierlich and Michael VonGruenigen are the only men to have won two GS gold medals at Worlds.
It is the fourth World Championship gold medal for Ted Ligety and third of these championships. … He also owns a bronze medal in GS from Val d’Isere 2009. … Four gold medals ties him with Bode Miller for most American World Championships. … The three medals in one championship places him second all time behind Toni Sailer (4 in 1956) and Jean-Claude Killy (4 in 1968). … It is his seventh victory of the season and fifth in GS.
It is the first career individual World Championship medal for Marcel Hirscher. … He was fourth in GS at Val d’Isere (2009). … It is his 14the podium placing of the season. … and fifth in GS.
It is the third career World Championship for Manfred Moelgg. … He also won bronze in slalom in Garmisch (2011) and won silver in slalom at Are (2007). … It is his third podium result of the season.
It is the second best career World Championship placing for Tim Jitloff and his best in GS (he was 14th in combined at Garmisch (2011). … It is his best finish of the season. … It is the first career World Championship placing for Robby Kelley a
nd his second best of two results this season. … It is the first World Championship result for Philip Brown.
AUT – 5 – (gold, silver, bronze, bronze, bronze)
USA – 4 – (gold, gold, gold, bronze)
FRA – 4 – (gold, gold, silver, bronze)
SLO – 3 – (gold, silver, silver)
GER – 3- (gold, bronze, bronze)
ITA – 3 – (silver, silver, bronze)
NOR – 2 – (gold, bronze)
CRO – 1 – (silver)
SWE – 1 – (silver)
MORE TO COME