Ted Ligety wins World Cup GS
KRANJSKA GORA, Slovenia -- Olympic champion Ted Ligety overcame a softening course and a challenge by Austrian veteran Benjamin Raich to win a men's World Cup giant slalom on Saturday.
It was the American's sixth career win in the Slovenian resort, making him the first man to win six World Cup races in one discipline at the same venue.
"It's definitely a cool hill, it has so much personality," Ligety said. "It has some steep parts, some rolls, it has a little bit of gliding sections. It's a true GS skier's hill."
Ligety held on to his first-run lead and finished in an aggregate time of 2 minutes, 30.80 seconds to beat Raich by just 0.18. The 36-year-old Austrian trailed by 1.61 after the opening run before posting the fastest second-run time and making up almost 1½ seconds on the American.
Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway was 0.25 behind in third for his first career GS podium, four days after winning the junior world title in GS.
In spring-like conditions on the Podkoren course, Ligety didn't take too many risks in his final run and saw his comfortable lead shrink at every split time.
"I am not the kind of person that tries to cut off lines, so I just tried to ski smart and be clean as much as I could," said Ligety, who earned his fourth GS win of the season and 21st overall. He also won a super-combined event in Switzerland in January.
The victory also puts Ligety back in contention for the World Cup title in the discipline. He reduced his deficit to leader Marcel Hirscher, who came fourth, to 50 points with one race remaining and each victory worth 100 points.
Raich was "surprised how close I've come to Ted."
"I am very happy with second place, that's a great result," the 2007 overall champion said, who earned his first World Cup podium since winning a super-G in Crans Montana, Switzerland, two years ago.
"I knew I could still do it," said Raich, who will decide on his future after the season is over. "I am still having fun and I can still be fast. I won't decide now whether I continue my career or not."
Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway finished 17th and remained in the overall lead, 41 points clear of Hirscher. The Austrian can overtake Svindal after Sunday's slalom, which the Norwegian will skip.
"It's was brutally hard," Hirscher said. "For me those are useful points. I have managed to reduce my deficit. It remains tight. If I can win tomorrow, that would be cool, I would have some buffer."
Hirscher is chasing his third straight overall title and would become the first Austrian to achieve the feat. Only Italy's Gustav Thoeni (1971-73), Sweden's Ingemar Stenmark (1976-78) and American Phil Mahre (1981-83) have done it.
Leif Kristian Haugen posted faster intermediate times than Ligety in the opening run but had a nasty crash just before the finish. The Norwegian led Ligety by 0.10 when he lost his balance and fell through the final gate before sliding over the finish line. But as his skis had passed the gate correctly, he avoided disqualification.
Haugen finished the race in 15th, 1.75 behind Ligety.