Ted Ligety wins tight GS in Sölden
It was a perfect way to kick off the Audi FIS World Cup season: a tight race, a great winner, an amazing crowd and blue sky to enhance it all.
The expected battle between Ligety and Hirscher took place yet again (they won together 22 out of the 26 last giant slaloms). In the end and for the 4th time, Ted Ligety is the winner of the opening giant slalom in Sölden. "I guess I found the right combination today," he said. "I love it here. It's an awesome race, a tough hill, and I love that excitation you feel at the first race of the season."
Ligety was 0.15 ahead of France's Thomas Fanara, who didn't lose his concentration and confirmed his flawless performance in the first run. The GS specialist has been in the Top 5 of the GS standings for the past 3 years, but he has rarely been so close to his first World Cup win. "It feels good to be on the podium. It's never easy to be fast in the first race of the season, you never really know about your shape. It helps to have a strong French team, so we have good references in training."
Marcel Hirscher ended up in 3rd place, 0.17 seconds off the pace. The Austrian super star could count on the support of his home crowd. "I'm super happy with this 3rd place because the preparation has been totally weird this year," he commented. "Sometimes I skied really good and was half a second ahead of the others Austrian guys, sometimes I was two seconds behind."
With this first race of the season, the four-time defending World Cup winner got the confirmation that he will be fast this season too. Hirscher also used the opportunity to congratulate his team-mate Ronald Leitinger, who made an incredible jump forward in the 2nd run and ended up 6th with bib number 39.
Sölden again offered an outstanding World Cup Opening, with more than 31'500 spectators over the week-end, a perfectly prepared race slope coupled with a motivated and skilled organising committee. The Tyroler venue opened the season in the best possible way.
For full results of the day click here.