Connect to share and comment
Defending champion Ted Ligety laid down a solid foundation for a third gold medal at the World Ski Championships with an outstanding first run in the men's giant slalom on Friday.
The 28-year-old American was a shock winner of the opening super-G and then showcased his slalom skills to nail super-combined gold, suitably filling the void felt in the US camp by the absence of the injured Lindsey Vonn.
Hitting the steep slope here with bib number three, Ligety allied his superior technical ability on the new giant slalom skis with an aggressive approach, to time 1min 13.14sec down the Planai course in cold, sunny conditions.
The American has totally dominated the discipline on the World Cup circuit, winning three of four giant slaloms so far this season, and seems set to continue that form.
"It felt pretty good. I just skied as clean as possible," Ligety said. "I didn't take any crazy risks."
Norwegian Aksel Lund Svindal was well set in his bid for his own third medal of these championships following downhill gold and super-G bronze.
The 2007 world GS champion, who is also the reigning Olympic bronze medallist in the event, was in second place at a distant 1.30sec.
"It's possible to ski fast, you just have to find your rhythm," said Svindal. "I don't think it's possible to beat Ted, but behind him it looks pretty open and I had a pretty good run."
Austrian hopes for a first individual gold medal rest squarely on the young shoulders of Marcel Hirscher, more so in Sunday's slalom than the giant slalom.
But Hirscher finished strongly here to come in third, just one-hundredth of a second off Svindal, with Italian Manfred Moelgg in fourth at 1.44sec.
Germany's Fritz Dopfer was in fifth, a further 0.14sec adrift, ahead of Italian David Simoncelli (at 1.77sec), Austrian veteran Benjamin Raich (1.90) and French hope Alexis Pinturault (1.95).
"That was a mistake-laden run," lamented Pinturault. "But there are always time deficits not too important for a second or third place.
"Everything's to play for and I have nothing to lose but all to gain."
The second run of the giant slalom is scheduled for 1:30pm (1230 GMT) with the starting order dependent on results from the first run: the skier placed 30th will start, with Ligety running last in his bid for triple gold.