Ligety puts down sizzling second run to win World Championships gold in giant slalom

By Real Vail
Real AspenFebruary 18, 2011
GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany – Two-time Audi FIS Alpine World Cup giant slalom champion and Olympic gold medalist Ted Ligety, of Park City, Utah, skied a tactically flawless second run today to become the 2011 giant slalom World Champion.

Sitting fourth after the first run, the 2009 World Championships bronze medalist received a detailed course report from teammate Bode Miller, Franconia, N.H., to produce a perfectly balanced attack that edged Cyprien Richard of France by eight hundredths of a second.

Ligety is currently leading the World Cup giant slalom standings after winning the first three races of the season. Miller moved up from 27th to finish 12th today with the fastest second run time.

Ligety joined current U.S. Ski Team members Miller and Lindsey Vonn, of Vail, as one of only a handful of Americans who have won both an Olympic gold medal and a World Championships gold medal. Ligety stunned the world in Sestriere, Italy, in 2006 when he won the Olympic gold in the traditional combined (two runs of slalom and one run of downhill). Miller was leading by a wide margin and straddled a gate in slalom.

"The Olympic gold medal in combined and winning a World Championship are very different," Ligety said. "The Olympics are bigger and I was the surprise victory in that event so I didn't have the pressure on me to perform. But being able to perform when you're supposed to win is far more difficult than just putting it on the line like I did at the Olympics. To be able to put down two good runs and win is that much more special."

Ligety has said in the past an Olympic gold in giant slalom would in some ways be more meaningful than his combined victory in 2006. He was shut out in medals at last year's Vancouver Winter Olympics.

"Last year, the Olympics were pretty disappointing and I think that gave me a big motivation for the summer," he said. "I'm really physically fit compared to other years. I won the GS title last year, but I won it with the least amount of points than I'd had in the three previous years, so I knew if I wanted to stay on top of that there was a lot of work to do. I still think I have a lot of motivation because I want to try and win the overall title."

Ligety has pointed out the challenges of holding the worlds at the relatively low elevations of Garmisch. Warm weather, soft snow and course conditions have been dominant story lines the past two weeks. Vonn was very critical of the women's downhill course before earning a silver medal in that event and taking the rest of the Championships off to recover from concussion symptoms. Ligety said the conditions were tough again today.

"It's not easy being one of the favorites and being able to perform in this type of conditions. I feel really lucky to come away with the win," Ligety said. "Ski racing isn't always a guarantee like it is for some other sports. After the first run I knew I was in touch and I knew if I had a really good run I could move up onto the podium and maybe get the win so I pushed really hard."

Head Coach Sasha Rearick also talked about the challenges.

"It wasn't easy, it was super aggressive and an incredible battle for Ted to hold on for the win. Two years ago in Val d'Isere, Ted was way out so our plan coming in here was just to fight, fight, fight," Rearick said.

"Ted knows he should win, but to be able to execute that on race day is a challenge. The main fight for him was just to trust himself and go as hard as he can. He skied like a champion today.

"The whole team needed this. We had a tough speed series here and this will inspire the guys to bring their best skiing into Sunday's slalom. We've got an incredibly talented and eager group of young guys who are ready to get the job done."

2011 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships
Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany – February 18, 2011

Giant Slalom

Gold: Ted Ligety, Park City, UT, 2:10.56
Silver: Cyprien Richard, France, 2:10.64
Bronze: Philipp Schoerghoffer, Austria, 2:10.99

12. Bode Miller, Franconia, NH, 2:11.83
35. Warner Nickerson, Gilford, NH, 2:14.76

Did not finish second run:
Tommy Ford, Bend OR

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