The GS: Can anyone knock off Ligety? | VailDaily.com

The GS: Can anyone knock off Ligety?

Yes, we’ve said this before a Birds of Prey giant slalom — but it is important to remember.

There are other people not named Ted Ligety who are competing in today’s giant slalom, which starts at 9:45 a.m. with the second run at 12:45 p.m.

We understand that we are at the point that Ligety winning a GS at Beaver Creek is something akin to the constancy of death and taxes. Ted’s won six of his last seven GS starts at Birds of Prey, a run dating back to 2010.

Yes, the only two times Ligety beat Austria’s Marcel Hirscher, last year’s World Cup GS champ, during the 2014-15 season were, naturally, right here — Birds of Prey and the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships.

Yes, Ligety has already won the first GS of the season in Soelden, Austria, back in October. Yes, in the wild world ski racing, there are few things more bankable than Ligety winning this race.

But …

The world’s best giant-slalom racers didn’t travel across the Atlantic to get creamed by Ted. They’re coming for Ligety today.

The lowdown:

Weather and stats

Format: It’s much different than the speed events. GS is two runs with the highest-ranked racers going first during the first run, as opposed to Nos. 16-22 in speed. The top-30 finishers in the first run qualify for a second run. The order for the afternoon run is flipped — hence, “making the flip” will be a popular term today — with the fastest guy in the first run going last in the second run. The best combined time wins and racers must complete both runs to earn World Cup points.

Stats: The course starts at 10,247 feet and drops 1,312 feet over nearly a mile (4,887 feet.)

Weather: The forecast for Avon is a high of 42, which is mid-30s at Redtail Stadium. More importantly — no snow.

Winners and rankings

Previous winners: Lasse Kjus, Norway, (2004); Bode Miller, U.S.A., (2005); Massimiliano Blardone, Italy, (2006); Daniel Albrecht, Switzerland (2007); Benni Raich, Austria, (2008); Carlo Janka, Switzerland (2009); Ligety (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 Worlds) and Marcel Hirscher, Austria (2011).

2015 World Cup GS rankings: 1. Hirscher, 690 points; 2. Alexis Pinturault, France, 487; 3. Ligety, 462; Fritz Dopfer, Germany, 346; 5. Thomas Fanara, France, 330.

Soelden GS results: 1. Ligety; 2. Fanara; 3. Hirscher; 4. Roberto Nani, Italy; 5. Pinturault.

Americans and the course

Top Americans who are not Ted in GS in 2015: 17. Tim Jitloff, 109 points; 36. Tommy Ford, 18; 39. David Chodounsky, 14.

Americans running today: That Ted guy, Jitloff, Tommy Ford, Michael Akeny, Chodounsky and Andrew Weibrecht.

The course: The theme of the day for GS at Birds of Prey is simple — take the speed from the top and keep on the lower half of the course. Not many can gain speed on Golden Eagle, Harrier and Redtail. (Ligety has been known to do it, though.)

Favorites

Well: Ligety and Hirscher. We’ve already explained Ted. Hirscher is the defending World Cup champ in this discipline. He earned 690 of 800 GS points last year on the World Cup last year. He was also the last guy to beat Ted on this course.

The rest of the favorites: Pinturault, Dopfer, Fanara, Germany’s Felix Neureuther and Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen.

Guys who wouldn’t be a complete surprise: Nani, and Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal and Kjetil Jansrud, just because they’ve skied well this week.

Reporter picks

Of course, no one had Hirscher in Saturday’s super-G. Hirscher probably didn’t have himself winning the super-G. But Freud gets some credit for writing, “If it starts to dump, then those with an earlier start number can take advantage of a clear course before the white stuff piles up.”

For the GS:

• Shauna Farnell, general ski goddess reporter: Ligety.

• Chris Freud, Vail Daily: Hirscher.

• Pat Graham, AP Denver: Ligety.

• Ross Leonhart, Vail Daily: Pinturault.

• Melanie Wong, Vail Daily: Ligety.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, cfreud@vaildaily.com and @cfreud.