A one-two American punch in giant slalom
BEAVER CREEK, USA - In today’s giant slalom race in Beaver Creek, the story line the same with a small twist. There was Ted Ligety sitting atop the field. But his fellow podium mates changed as teammate Bode Miller finished in a surprising second place 0.22 seconds off the pace. Austrian Marcel Hirscher picked up yet another podium finish just over a half second off the mark.
“It’s awesome to see that Bode is back in it and skiing fast. He put it together today.” Ligety said after the win. “I love this hill. I had a lot of friends and family here today which means a lot. I could have gone a little harder, but with the conditions, I didn’t want to take any big risks.”
It was less than ideal conditions for the last race of the Beaver Creek series. With wind, snow and a delayed start of 30 minutes on the first run to clear the course of excess snow, all competitors faced an uphill battle throughout the day.
In the end, it was two of the three the competitors that have dominated the giant slalom standings in the last year that were able to conquer the conditions. Ligety, Hirscher and Pinturault have shared the podium at the last three World Cup giant slaloms. But in Beaver Creek, Pinturault was bumped off the podium in favor of American Bode Miller, who was the stunner podium finisher with two spectacular runs that thrilled the hometown crowd.
The win made Ligety the first man in 22 years to win four straight giant slaloms, tying Italian Alberto Tomba’s mark set in 1991. Ligety has won seven of the last nine giant slaloms and has earned a podium in all nine of those races.
Ligety said of his performance, “I feel like I skied well the whole way done considering the conditions are tough out there; it’s pretty bouncy. I was able to arch the places I needed to arch. I was a bit surprised by the time difference because with the snow conditions right now it’s not a feel-good course.”
For Austria’s Hirscher it was an impressive 13th podium finish in the last 14 races.
Within the rest of the field, two athletes stood out as they made their way up the rankings. France’s Mathieu Faivre nearly claimed his first-ever podium after a fantastic second run. Switzerland’s Carlo Janka, who struggled last seasons, finished sixth from bib 68 after two good runs.
In the first run, American Bode Miller gave the hometown fans reason to celebrate when he surprisingly finished in second place as the 31st skier down the hill. The strong run was a clear signal that Miller is quickly getting back to his pre-hiatus form.
The last time Bode Miller earned a podium in the giant slalom was in 2007 in Lenzerheide. And the last win was in Beaver Creek in 2005.
Miller said of his steadily improving results, “My confidence had never been my issue but now I also have the fitness to back it up. I can go full speed right from the start and don’t have to worry.”