Giant Slalom Race at the Season Opener in Sölden. Ligety came out ahead of Alex Pinturault (FRA) by 0.79 seconds. Rounding out the podium was Austria's Marcel Hirscher, who finished 1.02 seconds off the pace. It was the third straight victory for Ligety at the Sölden Season Opener.
It was Ligety’s ninth-straight podium finish in giant slalom and his 31st career giant slalom podium. He is now tied with Italian superstar Alberto Tomba for Giant Slalom podiums, ranking fourth among all skiers.
"I’m super psyched to win this today (..) 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”, said Ligety.
The top three finishers also sat atop the standings after the first run and hung on to their positions through the windy second run.
Ligety won the last two Giant Slaloms of the last season, but many were unsure if the rest of the field would close the gap on the American star as more skiers adapt to the ‘new’ equipment regulations. Ligety silenced those naysayers already in the first run when he laid down the fastest time of the morning as the third racer down and took nearly a one-second advantage into the second run.
"I hope to be able to have a season close to what I had last year", Ligety said. "But repeating what I did last year in giant slalom is going to be difficult. A lot of people will have figured out the skis a little bit more over the summer and I don’t expect to be winning the races by the same margins. But hopefully I can still keep the consistency of my skiing".
For Pinturault, it was the second time that he finished second place in Sölden. At age 22, the French sensation is already making a name for himself in the giant slalom with seven career World Cup Giant Slalom podiums.
Austrian Marcel Hirscher had hoped to give the home crowd reason to celebrate, but like runner-up Kathrin Zettel in yesterday’s ladies’ race, he got a place on the podium, but missed the top step. Nevertheless, two podium places on the weekend for the Austrians was a good result for the hosts.
"People expect me to be on the podium every time", Hirscher said. "But it's not all that easy. I'm not a machine and at this time of the year the pressure is always really high. It's very good to be standing here today and I hope I can continue in this direction".