Ted Ligety, the 2013 world champion in three events, kicked-off this all-important Olympics qualification season with a giant slalom win in the FIS Audi World Cup season opener on Sunday in Soelden, Austria.
Coming off a successful pre-season of training, Ligety scorched the field with a 1:59:50, two-run finish – extending his frontrunner status from last March at the world championships where he won this event, along with the super G and super combined races.
“Ted the Shred,” as he is affectionately known, tore up the first run (1:00.44), besting the field by nearly a full second. His second heat (59:06) further secured his victory on this demanding course.
“I’m super psyched to win this today,” said Ligety. “It wasn’t easy conditions on the second run it was dark and bumpy, but any day you win it’s a good day, so I can’t complain.”
France’s Alexis Pinturaly (2:00.29) and Austria’s Marcel Hirscher (2:00.52) won silver and bronze to round out the podium. Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal, a perennial frontrunner, nabbed 4th place (2:01.23).
Ligety led a strong American contingent – inclusive of Bode Miller who returned to the world cup circuit after a year’s absence from the tour. Reacquainting himself with competition, Miller begins his trek on the road to the Sochi Olympics, nabbing a 19th spot (2:02.79).
“My knee feels better than it has since 2001,” said Miller. “Once I made a decision not to race last year, it took a lot of pressure off and I could focus my recovery.”
Tim Jitloff, a rising skier on Team USA, secured his spot in the top twenty (2:02.82), just behind Miller.
The tour resumes in Levi, Finland for the women’s and men’s slalom on November 16 and 17.
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