December 19, 2010
Alta Badia, Italy – Two-time Audi FIS Alpine World Cup giant slalom champion Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) mastered the icy Alta Badia slope to capture his third consecutive GS victory Sunday and take the first World Cup overall lead of his career. The last time a World Cup male won three consecutive GS races was Austrian great Hermann Maier during the 2001 season.
"This is a dream come true," said Ligety, whose previous wins came in Val d'Isere, France and Beaver Creek, CO. "This is the best GS hill on the World Cup circuit and to win today is super special, especially with three in a row."
Frechman Cyprien Richard finished second, .14 behind Ligety after suffering from an enormously costly mistake midway down. Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) also landed in the GS points for his second time this season with 15th.
Just over an hour after Ligety stepped off the podium, his teammate Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) stepped back up, winning the super combined in Val d'Isere, France to mark the second time this season she and Ligety have won on the same day. Two weeks ago, Ligety thrilled the home crowd in Beaver Creek while Vonn snagged a super G win at Lake Louise, Alberta. Both are now leading the World Cup overall standings.
On Saturday, Vonn was announced as the 2010 Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year, the first time a skier has recieved the honor since the awards inception in 1931.
Sitting in second by .15 to Richard after a clean opening run, Ligety went to full attack in the second run, his skis skipping multiple times over the icy rattling track, yet maintained his balance into the rowdy Italian finish.
"Ted's skiing right now is impressive in all kinds of conditions," said Head Coach Sasha Rearick. "The people who were competitive with him last week really weren't competitive with him today. But what I'm really stoked about with Ted was that he's never been fast on the bottom in Alta Badia and he had perfect execution down there today."
Ligety's previous high marks in Alta Badia were a slalom third in 2007 and a GS fourth in 2008.
"This hill is crazy crazy icy and it's just tough to make it down," said Ligety after the eighth World Cup win of his career. "The second run I was attacking hard and made some small mistakes here and there. I just feel really lucky, Cyprien was I think the best skier today, but he made the mistake and I think I just got the luck. When things get rolling like they have been for me, you get lucky in that sense."
Ligety was quick to credit the victory to the extra hours he spent upping his fitness in the Center of Excellence over the summer and also to the hard work of his new ski company.
"It's tough to say what the secret is," he said. "I think part of it is that my physical conditioning is a lot better this year and the Head skis are working awesome. You can't say enough about the team at Head and how well they've been working."
Rearick couldn't agree more and also crediting his staff and the training Ligety put in last week in nearby Paganella – the U.S. men's European training base.
"The training we had in Paganella leading up to here was fantastic. "I'm also proud of the staff. The group has done an amazing job. Between World Cups and Europa Cups our young guys are coming up," added Rearick, nodding to the Europa Cup slalom podiums earlier in the week from Will Gregorak (Longmont, CO) and Nolan Kasper (Warren, VT).
Ligety and the technical team now return home for the Christmas holiday, while the speed men move to Bormio for the annual post Christmas downhill on Dec. 29.
Here's a training video from before the race:
Audi FIS Alpine World Cup
Alta Badia, Italy – Dec. 19, 2010
1. Ted Ligety, Park City, UT, 2:31.99
2. Cyprien Richard, France, 2:32.13
3. Thomas Fanara, France, 2:32.54
4. Didier Cuche, Switzerland, 2:33.15
5. Ondrej Bank, Czech Republic, 2:33.29
15. Bode Miller, Franconia, NH, 2:34.85
Did not qualify for a second run: Warner Nickerson (Gilford, NH), Tommy Ford (Bend, OR)
DNF: Tim Jitloff (Reno, NV), Will Gregorak (Longmont, CO), David Chodounsky (Crested Butte, CO)