Ligety Locks Down Giant Slalom Title
It rained Saturday in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia. That's a crummy way to race a ski race like a World Cup giant slalom. To see out your goggles is kinda-sorta like seeing through the windshield of your car, and in the second of the two runs several racers had to made like windshield wipers, reaching up to wipe off their goggles.
Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway wiped off his goggles. At least he finished, a more-than-respectable sixth. Fritz Dopfer of Germany wasn't so lucky. He hit a gate with his head; that knocked his goggles off; reaching for them, he appeared to get stuck in slushy snow and went flying off into the protective fencing.
These were the conditions Ted Ligety had to navigate to lock down his fifth giant slalom victory of the season and, in the process, his fourth World Cup giant slalom title.
Ligety led Austria's Marcel Hirscher by six-tenths of a second after the first run. In the second run's rain, Hirscher ended up finishing 45-hundredths back.
France's Alexis Pinturault took third, 77-hundredths behind.
Ligety's winning overall time: 2:35.43.
Ligety's lead in the giant slalom standings: an insurmountable 620-495.
In the World Cup overall standings, Hirscher leads Svindal by 69 points. Ligety stands (a distant) third.
Ligety's three prior giant slalom titles: 2008, 2010, 2011.
"It's a big weight off my back," Ligety said. "I had an awesome season in giant slalom but Hirscher was with me the whole season. It makes it tough going for the title. It was a head game when he was so close all along."
"For me, this is a very successful day," Hirscher said. "In the second run I was faster than Ted Ligety and that makes for a fantastic day. Conditions were tough. It was raining pretty strong and it wasn't an easy run on the soft snow."
This was Ligety's 16th career victory, all in giant slalom, and his fifth win at Kranjska Gora (2008, 2009, 2010, 2012). As he said, "This hill is awesome. It has everything. I'm super-proud to win here again."
More history books: Ligety is now third all-time, behind Ingemar Stenmark (46) and Michael von Gruenigen (23) for World Cup giant slalom wins. He had been tied with Alberto Tomba.
For the season: this was Ligety's eighth win. He took three gold medals at the world championships.
As a measure of his consistency: Ligety recorded top-three finishes in all seven of the season's giant slalom races; there's one left to go. He is the first racer to do so since von Gruenigen, in 1996.
"Racing in the rain isn't my favorite thing," he said, but you do what you have to do. "I grew up in Park City, Utah, and only skied in 25 degrees and sunny."