- Athletes and Competition: Get the latest ski news here.
- Ski Headlines:Get the latest headline news right here.
(skiracing.com) -Sunday, (Dec. 16) the best ski racers on the planet were severely tested by Alta Badia's classic giant slalom hill, the Gran Risa. One of them rose above the challenge: America's Ted Ligety put in a first run of gargantuan proportions to lead by an amazing 2.4 seconds. It proved more than enough to secure his 14th career GS win and put him in a tie with Hermann Maier and Benjamin Raich for fourth on the all-time GS win list (among men). Though the defending GS champ, Marcel Hirscher, put the hammer down in his second run to illicit a bit of pressure, and although Ligety had his share of second run mistakes, touching his elbow to the snow high on the course, the first run lead proved to be too much for any to overcome. Ligety got his third GS win of the season by a massive 2.04 margin. Hirscher held second for his sixth podium of the season and Frenchman Thomas Fanara notched third, matching his career best mark from the same hill in December 2010 and at Adelboden in January 2011. Ligety was at a loss to explain his first run heroics. “I guess,” he said, “I just arced more than everybody else.” Arcing the Gran Risa is easier said than done. On a back and forth wide set second run down the classically rock hard surface, few looked good through their entire run. With just five skiers within three seconds of Ligety the only hope was to go all out and hope the American failed to stay on course. Though his touch down raised the possibility, Ligety's physical strength allowed him to recover and mental strength to maintain his composure. Ligety said the run was " ... a tough ride. It (Alta Badia) is always very technical and was really bumpy in that second run. A couple of times I had my elbow in the snow and everything. It wasn't easy but I was able to stay on my feet in the finish line at least." The fastest second run of the day went to Mathieu Faivre, the first man out of the start. It created a lead that held through a dozen skiers, until Davide Simoncelli used training knowledge of his local hill to take over. Faivre eventually fell to tenth. German Fritz Dopfer quickly wrestled the lead away from Simoncelli. They would finish fourth and fifth. Alexis Pinturault, with - at 21 years of age - limited experience on the Gran Risa, had been third after one run but saw his lead dwindle from errors committed high on the track leaving only Hirscher to present a challenge. And he tried, oh how he tried. Hirscher was magnificent in recording the second fastest time of the afternoon heat pushing to the limit the length of the course. Though he beat the rest of the field by nearly a second and a quarter, Ligety needed to court disaster to lose the race. He courted it, but did not succumb to it. Gepa photo