KRANJSKA GORA, SLOVENIA – Olympic champion Ted Ligety overcame a softening course and a challenge by Austrian veteran Benjamin Raich to win a men’s World Cup giant slalom on Saturday.
It was the American’s sixth career win in the Slovenian resort, making him the first man to win six World Cup races in one discipline at the same venue.
“It’s definitely a cool hill, it has so much personality,” Ligety said. “It has some steep parts, some rolls, it has a little bit of gliding sections. It’s a true GS skier’s hill.”
Ligety held on to his first-run lead and finished in an aggregate time of 2 minutes, 30.80 seconds to beat Raich by just 0.18. The 36-year-old Austrian trailed by 1.61 after the opening run before posting the fastest second-run time and making up almost 1½ seconds on the American.
Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway was 0.25 behind in third for his first career GS podium, four days after winning the world junior title in GS.
In spring-like conditions on the Podkoren course, Ligety didn’t take too many risks in his final run and saw his comfortable lead reduced at every split time.
“I am not the kind of person that tries to cut off lines so I just tried to ski smart and be clean as much as I could,” said Ligety, who earned his fourth GS win of the season and 21st overall. He also won a super-combined event in Switzerland in January.
The victory also puts Ligety back in contention for the World Cup title in the discipline. He reduced his deficit behind leader Marcel Hirscher, who was fourth, to 50 points with one race remaining and each victory worth 100 points.
“At this point the giant slalom globe isn’t a huge goal of mine,” Ligety said. “I have to win and he has to falter which is not a really good strategy. If it was anybody else besides Marcel I would say it’s doable, but Marcel is not the kind of guy that gives anybody any gifts.”
Raich returned to a World Cup podium for the first time since February 2012, when he won a super-G in Crans Montana, Switzerland. The Austrian was “surprised how close I’ve come to Ted.”
“I am very happy with second place, that’s a great result,” said the 2007 overall champion, who will decide on his future after the season is over. “I am still having fun and I can still be fast.”
Shiffrin reigns again
Are, Sweden — Olympic champion Mikaela Shiffrin won a World Cup slalom on Saturday to retain her season-long title with one race left.
In her first slalom race since taking the gold in Russia, the 18-year-old American led from start to finish just as she did at Sochi two weeks ago.
Shiffrin had a combined two-run time of 1 minute, 50.66 seconds, 0.60 ahead of Maria Pietilae-Holmner of Sweden. Another Swede, Anna Swenn-Larsson, got her first career podium finish in third, 1.50 back.
Shiffrin earned 100 World Cup points for her fourth victory of the season and moved 130 clear of Frida Hansdotter of Sweden, who placed fourth.
Five days before her 19th birthday, Shiffrin, who is from Vail, Colorado, now has Olympic and world championship gold medals and two World Cup titles in her specialist event.
In a tight race for the overall World Cup title, Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany retook the standings lead from Anna Fenninger of Austria, who does not race slalom.
Hoefl-Riesch placed seventh, trailing Shiffrin by 3.26, to earn 36 race points.