American Ted Ligety used a powerful second run to win a World Cup giant slalom Sunday despite a broken wrist.
In fourth place after the opening pass, Ligety found speed where others couldn’t on a deteriorating course. He finished in a combined time of 2 minutes, 34.07 seconds. Alexis Pinturault of France was second, 0.18 seconds behind, and Austria’s Marcel Hirscher ended up third.
Ligety had four metal screws inserted into his wrist after an accident during training Nov 22. He didn’t take much time off after surgery, but had to train without a pole for a little bit. Ligety said that actually helped him develop more balance going around gates.
Hirscher joked that it really didn’t matter if Ligety raced with one pole — or even one ski — he would still be fast.
"Ted is definitely one of the best, no, I’m sure, the best GS skier in the world," Hirscher said.
This was Ligety’s 23rd career GS World Cup victory, tying him with Switzerland’s Michael von Gruenigen for second all-time in the discipline. Fitting, since von Gruenigen was one of Ligety’s idols as a kid.
"To have the same amount of World Cup wins as him is surreal," said Ligety, who’s from Park City, Utah. "I never would’ve guessed I’d be anywhere close to him as a kid. It’s really cool."
The only name ahead of Ligety on the GS list is Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark, who had 46 wins in the event.
"What he’s done is pretty unattainable," Ligety said. "I would say Stenmark’s thing is a pipe dream."
Benjamin Raich of Austria led after the first run, but it was a tightly bunched field, with eight racers all within a second.
Ligety hammered down a course he knows so well, staying out of the grooves in the soft snow and building more and more speed. He even dragged that sore wrist on the snow around turns, because it’s something he’s always done and wasn’t going to let the injury get in the way of his performance.
When he crossed the finish line in the lead, the crowd erupted.
Hirscher couldn’t match Ligety’s time. Neither could Pinturault. And Raich, who went last, struggled as he slipped to fourth.
It was Ligety’s fifth giant slalom win in Beaver Creek. This also drew him closer to Hirscher and Pinturault in the overall GS race. Ligety has won the discipline four of the last five seasons.
"Hirscher and Pinturault, those guys are amazing skiers for sure," the 30-year-old Ligety said. "Those guys are guys I love to watch ski. To get in front of them is always nice, especially being the old guy."
Ligety had a rough showing in October during a season opening GS in Soelden, Austria, when he finished 10th in a race won by Hirscher. But Ligety cleaned up some technical issues, and it showed on his final run.
"I was confident to ski the way I wanted to," Ligety said. "It was a really fun day."