Ligety wins last World Cup race before Sochi
ST.MORITZ, Switzerland - With the World Cup racers making their final preparations for Sochi, American Ted Ligety won the last World Cup race before the Olympic break picking up the giant slalom victory in St. Moritz (SUI).
It was a difficult weekend for the athletes and organizers. Oodles of fresh snow kept the course workers busy day and night preparing the slope, while fog and wind caused delays in today’s giant slalom and forced the cancellation of yesterday’s downhill.
After the first run, it was the ‘big three’ of this season’s giant slalom athletes leading the field. Ligety paced all racers, followed by Alexis Pinturault (FRA) and Marcel Hirscher (AUT). In every giant slalom this season, at least one of the trio has finished on the podium, and more often than not is has been a combination of at least two of the three.
Today all three of the giant slalom stars shared a spot on the podium, with Ligety claiming the victory by an impressive margin 0f 1.51 seconds. Hirscher finished in second place, while Pinturault took third, 1.69 seconds behind Ligety. The three showed that they are the class acts in giant slalom with the rest of the field more than two and a half seconds off their blistering pace.
"That was a bumpy ride today, it's so tough when you can't see anything, it's really tiring. I tried to make smoother, clearer turns and not worry about the distance so much," said Ligety after the race. "It was nice to get another good race in before Sochi and confirm where I am in giant slalom. Hopefully I can carry the confidence over the Olympics."
“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,” one of the top favorites in Sochi said.
Pinturault has dominated some slalom races this year but is still looking for that GS victory. For a moment today he thought this might be his chance but conditions proved too difficult.
“This second run was even bumpier than the first one, it was difficult to stay focused. I never won a GS this year and that’s the goal, I will push hard in the next events and try to go for that top spot,” Pinturault said.
Norway had a strong showing in today’s race. At the midway mark of the second run, three Norwegians sat atop the standings with Leif Kristian Haugen, Henrik Kristoffersen and Kjetil Jansrud enjoying a little time in the leader box before the Top Ten racers came down the hill. All three of the racers ended up finishing in the half of the final standings.
Now the racers will pack their bags and head to the biggest event of the season, the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. The first Alpine Skiing medal will be handed out on February 9, when the men’s downhill kicks off the alpine events at the Rosa Khutor ski area.