Ted is the champ again
BEAVER CREEK — This is still Ted Ligety’s hill.
Ligety overcame a 0.24-second first-run deficit held by Austria’s Marcel Hirscher during Thursday’s giant slalom to win the United States’ first gold medal of the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships at Beaver Creek with what looked like a virtually flawless second run in front of boisterous partisan crowd.
Not only was it America’s much-anticipated first gold at these Championships, but it’s also the U.S. Ski Team’s first on home snow at Worlds since Feb. 2, 1989, the day Tamara McKinney won the women’s combined.
For Ligety, it’s his third straight gold medal at Worlds in GS, dating back to 2011. The defending Olympic GS champion has also won five consecutive races here and six of his last starts in the discipline at Beaver Creek.
With five racers, bookended by Hirscher in first and Ligety in fifth, within 24-hundredths of a second, the second run of Friday’s GS delivered fireworks. Ligety actually lost 5-hundredths of his advantage out of the start house before he crushed the rest of the course. Whereas most lost time on the flats of the course, Ligety found speed. By the second interval, the Park City, Utah, native was 0.7 seconds in the green and pulled into the finish with a 1.23-second lead over the previous leader, Sweden’s Matts Olson, who ended up fifth.
Germany’s Felix Neureuther nor France’s Alexis Pinturault, who ended up with bronze, made much of a charge. Hirscher did. The three-time defending overall World Cup champion kept most of his 0.24 lead over until the final interval, as the crowd groaned. But Hirscher could not maintain his speed down the last steep, Redtail, and would settle for silver 0.45 seconds behind Ligety.
Among many accolades, Ligety is the first man to three-peat in the GS. He also passed Lindsey Vonn with his seventh medal at Worlds, becoming the most-decorated American at the Championships.
This story will be updated.