2013 Worlds recap: Ted makes himself comfy in Austria
2013 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships
1. Aksel Lund Svindal, Norway; 2. Domink Paris, Italy; David Poisson, France.
1. Ted Ligety, U.S.A.; 2. Gauthier de Tessieres, France; 3. Aksel Lund Svindal, Norway.
1. Ted Ligety, U.S.A.; 2, Marcel Hirscher, Austria; 3. Manfred Molegg, Italy.
1. Marcel Hirscher, Austria: 2. Felix Neureuther, Germany; 3. Mario Matt, Austria.
1. Ted Ligety, U.S.A.; 2. Ivica Kostelic, Croatia; 3. Romed Baumann, Austria.
Editor’s note: Vail/Beaver Creek is hosting the Alpine World Ski Championships Feb. 2-15. The following story is part of a series previewing the upcoming World Championships.
VAIL — There were certainly expectations for Ted Ligety going into the 2013 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Schladming, Austria.
They were just centered on the giant slalom.
Ligety ended up being the star of Worlds in 2013 in Schladming, Austria, and comes into 2015 as the defending world champion in super-G, giant slalom and super-combined. (So much for the label of GS-specialist.)
No American has had a World Championships with three gold medals, and it puts Teddy-boy into some very exclusive company in the history of the event.
What’s more, the U.S. Ski Team left Austrian snow with the most gold medals and were second only to the hosts in total medals won (8-5). This does not sit well with the Austrians who are perhaps more passionate about skiing than the state of Colorado is about the Broncos.
A look back at the action for the men in Schladming in 2013, with an eye toward our little hoedown here in February.
What the heck?
Ligety has always said he wants to compete for the overall title. He insists he is not a GS specialist. However, the numbers say otherwise. As of this writing (Dec. 11), he has 24 World Cup wins, which do not include the Olympics or the Worlds, and 23 of those are giant-slalom wins.
For the trivially inclined, he won the super-combined in Wengen, Switzerland, in January 2014, after the 2013 Worlds.
Yes, he won Olympic gold in the combined in 2006, the last year that discipline had two runs of slalom, instead of one in what is now the super-combined. But that really did seem like a one-off.
In super-G, Ligety had finished second in Val d’Isere, France, in 2009, but most of his good finishes (top 10) were up at Lake Louise, Alberta, a course he really doesn’t like, and at Beaver Creek.
Even at Birds of Prey, he’d finished seventh in 2008 and fourth in 2012. (He has a fifth in 2013 and an 11th here after Schladming.)
But Ligety dialed it up and landed on the top step of the podium in the super-G, the opener for the men at Worlds. He beat Gauthier de Tessieres, a surprise silver medalist, of France, and Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal, who was absolutely no surprise in the super-G. Svindal is second on the all-time list in World Cup super-G wins. (No. 1 is Hermann Maier, who, by all accounts, is a pretty good skier.)
Cracking the combi
Order seemingly returned to the universe with Svindal winning the downhill, ahead of Italy’s Domink Paris and France’s David Poisson. For Beaver Creek race fans accustomed to seeing Svindal win here, he does it everywhere.
This was Svindal’s fifth Worlds’ gold. He has eight Worlds medals and three Olympic ones, including gold in super-G in 2010, on top of 25 World Cup wins and 11 World Cup titles. The guy’s a machine, stoppable only by a ruptured Achilles this fall, which is forcing him to miss the 2014-15 season.
While there will be no Svindal in 2015, do keep an eye on Norway. Kjetil Jansrud has shown he’s a tremendous skier in his own right, winning the 2014 Birds of Prey downhill and finishing second in the super-G the next day despite nearly wiping out on Harrier.
Back to all things Ted, even with a super-G win in hand, he didn’t have much of a chance in the super-combined, particularly with the event containing one run of slalom. (Basic World Cup math is that two slaloms are equal to the time of downhill. Ergo, two slaloms theoretically would balance the timing better for the tech skiers, like, say, Ligety.)
The scary thing was that Ligety was sixth after the downhill and only 0.72 seconds behind Austria’s Romed Baumann. (Basic World Cup math, part II, is that if you’re within a second going into the slalom run of a combined, anything can and often will happen.)
Svindal, France’s Adrien Theaux and Italy’s Christof Innerhofer, all ahead of Ligety after the downhill, DNF’d. Paris, fifth after the downhill, blew the slalom and fell to ninth.
Ligety crushed the slalom in a time of 54.86 seconds, a half-second ahead of Croatia’s Ivica Kostelic, who ended up in second, 1.15 ticks behind in all. Bauman, the bronze medalist, was also in Ligety’s rear-view mirror.
Better win this one
Not expected to win super-G and super-combined, there was some pressure on Ligety to win the GS. Back to the numbers, the GS remains his race. In 2013, he was on his way to the fourth of five discipline titles in GS. Only Ingemar Stenmark has won more globes in GS. (The Swede is the all-time World Cup winner with 86 victories on tour.)
Ligety also was the defending world champion, having won in Garmisch, Germany, in 2011.
Ligety put down one of his signature, “nobody else is winning today” first runs. He led Svindal by 1.3 seconds, an eternity in skiing, and Austria’s Marcel Hirscher by 1.31 seconds. Ligety could have snow-plowed his way down the hill on the second run.
Ligety, Hirscher and Italy’s Manfred Molegg made up the podium.
Ligety and Hirscher have quite the rivalry in GS, and it will be renewed here in 2015, but Hirscher owns the slalom. The Austrian defeated Germany’s Felix Neureuther and Austria’s Mario Matt for the home country’s only individual gold medal of the 2013 Worlds, a total upon which the perennial ski power would doubtless like to improve.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, email@example.com and @cfreud.