The 28-year-old from Park City, Utah, posted a two-run time of 2:25.59, 1.76 seconds ahead of runner-up Marcel Hirscher of Austria, while Italy’s Davide Simoncelli claimed the third place spot, over two seconds off Ligety’s pace. The American’s margin of victory was the largest for a Giant Slalom race on Birds of Prey.
“Right now, Ted is Mr. GS,” offered Hirscher, the reigning World Cup Overall and Giant Slalom champion. “Maybe we should make him ski two or three gates more than the rest of the field.”
In the opening Giant Slalom race of the World Cup season in Soelden, Austria, Ligety blistered the field to win by 2.75 seconds, the largest World Cup winning margin since 1979.
“While I know I’m skiing fast right now,” Ligety explained, “I think the other guys are still trying to get comfortable with the new GS skis. Once that happens, I think the gap will close. I said so much about the new rule on the skis that I knew I needed to work really hard this past summer to make sure that I gave myself the best chance to do well.”
Ligety led from wire-to-wire, running with bib 1. He opened up a 78-hundredths of a second lead over Hirscher in the opener, extending that margin in the afternoon session.
Two other Americans joined Ligety in qualifying for the second run as Tommy Ford placed 26th in the final standings, while teammate Tim Jitloff finished in 27th. As with Saturday’s Super-G, a tricky first run course set took its toll, with 20 racers failing to reach the finish.
“Both courses were really tricky,” added Ligety. “The first one was really turny and the second one was one of the fastest GS course sets we’ve seen in quite a while. This hill has been really good to me and it’s great to be able to race here in front of my family and friends.”
The win marks the third time that the American has won the Birds of Prey Giant Slalom, while also marking his 13th career World Cup win, all in Giant Slalom.
The men’s World Cup tour now heads back across the Atlantic to Val d’Isere, France for Giant Slalom and Slalom December 8-9.
The 2012 Audi FIS Birds of Prey is a project of the Vail Valley Foundation. For additional information on Birds of Prey, visit www.bcworldcup.com.
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