Ted Ligety got his season off to the best possible start to win the first completed Giant Slalom of the season. The American team had received some criticism coming into the last race in North America and Ligety wanted to correct this. And this is what he did in outstanding fashion: winning the first run and then extending the margin of lead over his HEAD teammate Kjetil Jansrud on the second run as HEAD racers scored their fourth Double Top of the World Cup weekend in North America! Aksel Lund Svindal had been third after the first run in Beaver Creak but came in fifth overall after a losing time on the top section of the second run.
Despite being the defending Giant Slalom World Cup Champion, Ligety has never been the fastest of starters in the season. His switch to HEAD this season has changed that: Second after the first run in Solden before the race was cancelled due to the fog, this win was also the first time that Ligety had won on home snow. Ligety told reporters: "It was just a perfect day to win. I could feel all the force within me as I was going down. I've never won so early in the season and it's in front of my home crowd. I had been doing pretty good in Beaver Creek for some time. I even came very close to winning. But I would not swap this against anything. The race was made for me."
Such is the camaraderie of the HEAD racers, Ligety, Jansrud and Svindal all managed to keep their composure while waiting for their second run. Light snow may have been falling but this did not stop the HEAD racers joking around! “It’s nice when you’re friends with your competitors,” Ligety said. “Jansrud and I were joking around at the start and it was a fun atmosphere. That kept me relaxed. The first time I ever won a first run, I asked Aksel what I do when I’m in the lead and he said, ‘just ski man.’ And that’s what I did. So I was psyched to get down pretty much mistake free. It’s very rare I make it down two runs without any mistakes.”
Just minutes before the second run, Ligety was cheered on by HEAD teammate Lindsey Vonn, in an impromptu phone interview with Beaver Creek race announcer and World Championships downhill medallist Doug Lewis over the Red Tail stadium speakers.
“Last year I was usually slow in the first runs and very fast in the second run. So being second after the first run was a new experience,” Jansrud said. “I felt I skied good on top and I felt I was pushing it. I felt like this was a good run. After the second split, I was like, this is interesting. But Ted, beating me by eight tenths … he’s in his own league today. I always say alpine skiing is an individual sport form start to finish. Of course I would have liked to be on top today. But in the sport, you get what you deserve.”
The hard work and dedication of the whole HEAD team paid off as Ligety and Jansrud stood on top of the podium.
1. Ted Ligety (USA) HEAD
2. Kjetil Jansrud (NOR) HEAD
3. Marcel Hirscher (AUT)
5 Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) HEAD
10 Truls Ove Karlsen (NOR) HEAD
11 Didier Cuche (SUI) HEAD
22 Florian Eisath (ITA) HEAD
27 Bode Miller (USA) HEAD