Ligety the star as HEAD racers podium ten times in Schladming World Championships.
The 2013 HEAD World Cup Rebels delivered some exceptional performances at the World Championshipts in Schladming: 5 Gold medals, 1 Silver and 4 Bronze medals, including a clean sweep in the Men’s Super G.
Coming into the World Championships, HEAD CEO Johan Eliasch explained that he hoped the ‘exceptional’ performances from Garmisch-Partenkirchen in 2011 could be matched but in coming up one short of the 2011 mark, the 2013 Championship haul created more records: Ted Ligety became the first racer since the 1968 World Championships (they also doubled as the Olympic Games) in Grenoble, to win three Gold medals and was the only racer to retain his World Championship from the Garmisch World Championships, the Giant Slalom. With Ligety starting off with the Super G Gold and then adding the Super Combined Gold to his haul before retaining his Giant Slalom title, Ligety admitted to having had a “surreal moment,” as he went on his winning run.
Ligety took the opening Gold for HEAD in the Men’s Super G. In the only clean sweep of the Championships, Ligety took the top step on the podium, Gauthier de Tessieres took silver and Aksel Lund Svindal took the bronze. Svindal said afterwards that this was his worst result of the season so far in Super G, not a bad place to finish if that was the worst result!
Not to be outdone by the Men, Maria Hoefl-Riesch produced an outstanding slalom run in the Super Combined to move up from fourth equal after the downhill to take the top step. Just two tenths off the lead, Hoefl-Riesch used all her experience and guile to post the fastest combined time and then had to wait. None of the remaining four racers, including HEAD racers and defending champion, Anna Fenninger or Lizz Goergl could better the time and Hoefl-Riesch was the Gold medal winner.
The middle Saturday, Super Saturday, was always going to be about one man, one HEAD World Cup Rebel, Aksel Lund Svindal. Svindal had won the Word Cup Final downhill down the same course at the end of last season and was in ominous form in the training runs. Cometh the day, cometh the man and Svindal took the third Gold of the Championships for HEAD. Rainer Salzgeber, the Racing Manager for the HEAD World Cup Rebels, felt that this was one of the defining moments of the Championship as Aksel was expected to podium yet had to endure the pressure of racers coming down after him. The lead was significant, the victory sweet.
Following her crash in the Super G, there was no Lindsey Vonn but yet again it was Maria Hoefl-Riesch who was the racer grabbing the medal for HEAD in the women’s Downhill. The weather played its part in hindering some of the racers as the light constantly changed. By the time Hoefl-Riesch entered the course, the light was changing and she pushed herself to the limit. Fast splits translated into a promising position, which in turn translated into a bronze medal. The medal rush was on!
Then it was on to the Men’s Super Combined. With Svindal the defending champion, it was Ligety though who was the star of the show again. Svindal posted the second best time in the downhill and yet a certain Giant Slalom skier was lurking back in sixth with what he described as his best ever downhill run. Under the lights in the slalom section, Ligety was in sublime form and stormed into the lead. Could the incredible happen? Could the 2006 Olympic Super Combined Champion become the 2013 World Champion? The answer to that is an emphatic yes! This was surreal moment number two for Ligety.
Into the technical races and this time it was Anna Fenninger who stepped up to the plate to grab another medal. After her disappointments in the speed events and Super Combined, Fenninger realized this was her last chance to go for a medal and attack she did. Her reward for some calculated ski racing was to take home the bronze.
If ever there was pressure on a racer to deliver, the Men’s Giant Slalom was that day. Despite having two Gold medals in the bag already, this was the medal that Ligety was in town for. He was the defending Champion and had won four of the five races on the World Cup this season. Cool under pressure, Ligety gave the rest of the field a lesson as he carved out a lead of 1.30 seconds after the first run. Ligety does not do safe skiing, he is a HEAD World Cup Rebel and he likes to attack. The statistics show he won his third Gold medal in the Giant Slalom. An incredible effort in an era that has discipline specialists more than allrounders: “I never wanted to be a specialist,” Ligety admitted.
The speed races were simply owned by HEAD! And this was after the disappointment coming into the Championships that saw Johan Clarey head home with a back injury. Then Lindsey Vonn and Kjetil Jansrud left the Championships injured. This had Salzgeber concerned. Asked what was the defining memory for him of the Championships and Salzgeber was hard pushed to put one moment forward as “every medal has a story behind it. These were probably the best days in a Championship ever for us,” he reflected.
“The memory of the complete podium in the Super G was impressive, the Downhill and the Giant Slalom, were all great moments,” continued Salzgeber.
“When you consider all the work that went into the skis after the rule changes, the hard work put in by the whole team, the podiums, this was the best way to show just how good our skis and set up is,” Salzgeber declared.
The table of success makes happy reading from Schladming 2013:
Ted Ligety: Super G, Super Combined & Giant Slalom
Maria Hoefl-Riesch: Super Combined
Aksel Lund Svindal: Downhill
Gauthier de Tessieres: Super G
Anna Fenninger: Giant Slalom
Maria Hoefl-Riesch: Downhill
Julia Mancuso: Super G
Aksel Lund Svindal: Super G