Double delight: Millers, Ligety win globes
Vail, CO Colorado
BORMIO, Italy ” For one American skier, Friday’s World Cup giant slalom in Bormio, Italy, was a mere formality. For another, the race was essential.
Bode Miller officially clinched the overall men’s title Friday ” the second of his career ” when Didier Cuche, his closest competitor, didn’t win. The U.S. Ski Team’s Ted Ligety, who entered the race with a slight edge in the discipline standings, had the fastest second run to move up several spots and capture the race and his first career title.
With Lindsey Vonn’s overall win later in the day, American skiers collected three globes in the span of a few hours. While both Vonn’s and Miller’s closest opponents had conceded Thursday, Ligety was afforded no such luxury.
Entering Friday’s race, Ligety held a 27-point lead over Austria’s Benjamin Raich. After the first run, Ligety sat in seventh, while Raich was in second.
“On the first run, I think I was definitely on the nervous side and decided to take it too tactically,” Ligety said during a teleconference Friday. “On the second run, I knew I needed to lay it down because (Raich) wasn’t going to give up on it. I had to take a lot of risks and make up a lot of time. I was super excited (with his run), but it was a nervous few minutes before I had to wait for Raich to come down.”
Ligety said he actually preferred to be trailing heading into the final run.
“I think I was in a good position from the tandpoint that I was behind. I had to fight. If I was ahead, it would have been tough to stay ahead because I wouldn’t have had the same fight,” he said.
The win marked Ligety’s third World Cup victory, which came one week after he won a giant slalom in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia. Ligety’s previous win came two years ago. While Ligety is the defending super-combined Olympic gold medalist, he relishes the giant slalom title quite a bit more.
“For me, this is tenfold more important than my gold medal,” Ligety said. “That was three runs. This is the entire season.”
In the eight giant slalom races this season, Ligety had four podium finishes, a pair of fourth-place finishes and a fifth-place finish, and he failed to complete one race.
“To be able to consistently lay down awesome results all year long is really special, especially in a sport like ski racing, where it’s so tough to be consistent,” he said.
After his win, Ligety watched Vonn wrap up her overall title, capping off one of the greatest seasons for American alpine skiing. Of a possible 12 World Cup titles, Americans won five ” last month, Miller won the super-combined and Vonn won the downhill.
“It was super cool watching the slalom and seeing Lindsey lay down her run,” Ligety said. “Then Bode, taking control at the end of the season was fun to watch as well. He was annihilating after being down-and-out seemingly at the beginning of the year.”
Miller, who left the U.S. Ski Team last year to form his own squad ” Team America ” was unavailable for comment.
Ligety and Vonn celebrated on the podium together Friday, spraying champagne, and then moved the party to an ad hoc barber shop where Ligety made good on a promise to cut his hair into a mullet.
“It originally started with one of the Rossignol guys in the U.S. He didn’t think I’d keep my hair all year long, and I bet him I could keep it until the last race of the season,” said Ligety, who hadn’t cut his hair since late 2006. “In January when I had the (leader’s bib), it became, ‘If I win the giant slalom title, I’ll cut a mullet.’ I was able to pull through and win the title, and the mullet ensued.”
In the next few seasons, mullet or not, Ligety hopes to make a move at the overall.
“I’m 20 kilos away from being able to compete for (the overall) in terms of downhill and super-G. I need to get more consistency in slalom and score more points and see what I can do in super-G and downhill,” Ligety said. “It’s maybe a couple years down the road. I’m pretty happy to be in fourth now in the overall. It’s definitely a step in the right direction.”
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