Monday, December 8, 2014

Ted Ligety Wins His 5th Beaver Creek Giant Slalom

Only 2 weeks after undergoing hand surgery Ted Ligety wins his fifth Birds of Prey Giant Slalom, his fourth in a row. It is his 23rd victory in Giant Slalom, tying Swiss great Michael Von Gruenigen for second all-time, trailing only Swedish star Ingemar Stenmark with his 46 wins.
"Stenmark is so far away. He’s such a legend in the sport. I think what he’s done is pretty unattainable. To be able to pass or equal Von Gruenigen at this point is awesome. He was one of my childhood heroes", acknowledged Ligety. "I loved watching him compete in the World Cups in Park City when I was a kid, so to be able to have the same amount of World Cup wins as him is pretty surreal. I never would have guessed that I’d be anywhere close to him as a kid. To be up there with one of the legends of our sport is really cool".
After skiing slightly conservatively in the first run Ligety was sitting in fourth place, but he spared nothing during his second and finished the race 0.18 ahead of second ranked Alexis Pinturault and 0.60 ahead of Marcel Hirscher.
"The first race of the season didn’t go as well as I wanted it to and I was a little bit frustrated but that’s how it goes in skiracing so it’s nice to be able to put it down today. Beaver Creek is always awesome and there is no race where the surface is as consistent as they make it here. It’s a lot of fun to ski here, there were good conditions top to bottom", Ligety said.
"I was skiing for a week without a pole because I couldn’t move my wrist much but now my hand feels fine, in a way that was good practice for my balance. I skied a lot without poles in the last years as a balance drill so it wasn’t such an issue, it might have helped my skiing a bit too. I don’t think about my hand while skiing, I just try to not drag my hand on the snow or hit gates with it, otherwise it’s not something I’m not so conscious about it", Ligety explained the hand situation.
After finishing third in Saturday’s super-G and hurting his arm in the process by hooking it into a gate, Pinturault was able to ski past the pain and climb one step up on the podium.
"It turned out to be a good day but it was not easy at the beginning because I had to think about my arm as it was really painful this morning but I was able to stay focused on my skiing and ski as fast as possible and finishing second is really great for me", Pinturault talked about his struggles on race day.
Marcel Hirscher was sitting in third after the first run and finished in the same place at the end of the race. The current leader of the GS standings is not as in tune as Ligety with the grippy American snow but is ready to do the take the challenge and improve his skiing on it.
"It was not easy today, it is super cool to be on the podium especially as both runs were pretty fast today which is not something I can usually ski really well and fast. I am more the kind of skier who likes if it’s icy and today was very ‘grippy’ very usual for American snow. I am now looking forward to being back for World Championships so I’m taking today as I great training for February", Hirscher said.

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