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Ted Ligety, a heavy favorite to win his sixth straight World Cup giant slalom Sunday at Beaver Creek, got warmed up with a second-place finish in a weather-shortened super-G on the Birds of Prey course Saturday. He was joined on the podium by teammate and third-place finisher Andrew Weibrecht, who was fifth in the downhill on Friday.
Ligety’s chief GS rival, Austrian Marcel Hirscher, won the super-G by three-tenths of a second over the Park City standout, showing the course shortened by a blast of winter weather Saturday morning clearly favored the GS technicians. It was Hirscher’s first career win in super-G, which is one of the speed events. Ligety has never won one.
Weibrecht, despite winning a silver and a bronze medal in super-G in the last two Winter Olympic, had never been on a regular-season World Cup podium (top 3) until Saturday’s race.
Ligety and Hirscher will duel for the GS title Sunday starting with a first run at 9:45 a.m. The second run is scheduled for 12:45. Besides GS wins at Beaver Creek the last five years, Ligety, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, also claimed the world championship GS title on the Birds of Prey course in Febuary.
Here’s a press release on Saturday’s race from the U.S. Ski Team:
BEAVER CREEK, CO (Dec. 5, 2015) – Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) and Andrew Weibrecht (Lake Placid, NY) stood on the podium on Saturday, taking second and third place respectively at the Audi Birds of Prey super G. It was Weibrecht’s first-ever Audi FIS Ski World Cup World Cup podium.
It was a foggy, snowy day at Beaver Creek, with the jury deciding to move the start down the hill for safety. The conditions were tough with soft snow on the side of the course and visibility changing throughout the race. However, the famed Talon Crew course workers were able to get the race off on time, despite the heavy snow that fell. The early guys had a good go, allowing Weibrecht, Travis Ganong (Lake Tahoe, CA) and eventual winner Marcel Hirscher of Austria to lay down solid runs before the snow became thick. Expected winners Aksel Lund Svindal and Kjetil Jansrud of Norway, among others, got caught as the visibility got worse and lost time in the middle of the top 30. But as Ted Ligety’s start number of 29 loomed, the sun poked through the clouds and the snow let up, allowing Ligety to throw down in front of the home crowd and ski into second.
“It’s tough when it’s like today—it’s a little bit inconsistent. The top couple guys who ran all had pretty good races and results and then the whole middle bunch were stuck in the brunt of the snow storm. Then during the last 20s, it got nice out again. I got lucky on that,” said Ligety after his finish. “It’s great to get a podium here in Beaver Creek.”
The result tied Ligety’s best World Cup super G, although he did win the FIS World Ski Championships super G in 2013. The last time he stood on a super G podium was in 2009 when he took second in Val d’Isere.
Weibrecht was stoked to step on his first-ever World Cup podium. The racer owns two Olympic medals—a silver and bronze in super G—but the closest he had come in a World Cup was fifth. “Just to get that monkey [of not having a World Cup podium result] off my back—where now I don’t have to field that question anymore would be unbelievable,” said Weibrecht. “To have that race in the books—that’s one of the big things that’s missing from my resume.”
Just behind Ligety and Weibrecht was Ganong, who took sixth place. Only two tenths off of the podium, Ganong is showing his power as a speed skier this season. The other American story was Tommy Biesemeyer (Keene, NY), who took most of the last two seasons off due to knee injuries. He attacked the course, starting 42nd to take 11th place. “Being on the sidelines for two years and watching your competition get better and improve and get the results you dream of is obviously hard, but also inspiring,” said Biesemeyer. “It’s been a long two years. To come out here today and walk away with 11th is awesome.”
After winning two NorAms at Copper Mountain this week, Tommy Ford (Bend, OR) also skied into the points, taking 28th. Wrapping up the rest of the Americans, Steven Nyman (Sundance, UT) was 35th, Tim Jitloff (Reno, NV) 36th and Bryce Bennett (Lake Tahoe, CA) 42nd. Jared Goldberg (Holladay, UT) DNFed.
Luckily today I had some good light. The top guys had a struggle there in the massive part of the snowstorm. I was able to capitalize when it looked like a little bit nicer weather on there. I feel happy with how I capitalized on that.
It’s tough when it’s like today—it’s a little bit inconsistent. The top couple guys who ran all had pretty good races and results and then the whole middle bunch were stuck in the brunt of the snow storm. Then the last 20s it got nice out again. I got lucky on that.
It’s great to get a podium here in Beaver Creek. I’ve had a lot of top fives or close in there races—where I haven’t put together a full good run. But today was great. To get on that podium finally here in super G is awesome.
The hill here has always treated me well, so I’m looking forward [to tomorrow].
I’m happy with the way I skied. I was happy with the way I skied yesterday and rolled that into today. It’s all good. Travis gave me a great report again today—he ran early and that’s always a little bit tougher. He told me it’s totally chargeable, that it’s super easy, just absolutely hammer it. That was the perfect advice. This course isn’t running that fast—it’s pretty slow with this new snow. You absolutely just have to pin it.
I had two fifth places last year, which I was super psyched about. Just to get that monkey [of not having a World Cup podium] off my back—where now I don’t have to field that question anymore would be unbelievable. To have that race in the books—that’s one of the big things that’s missing from my resume—a World Cup podium and a World Cup win. That’s why I’ve really put a lot of emphasis on training for the World Cup and trying to figure it out how to make it work for a year long schedule so I can stay at a high level and be knocking on the door every single weekend.
Being on the sidelines for two years and watching your competition get better and improve and get the results you dream of is obviously hard, but also inspiring. It’s been a long two years. To come out here today and walk away with 11th is awesome, but my inner competitiveness is coming through. You start to realize how close you are to the next step and that’s knocking at the door of a podium. Four tenths away from that I think is doable. But I’m not going to be greedy and take it for what it is. I’m just happy. It’s going to make going to sleep at night a little better. I know that I’m capable of it. I think my Achilles heel in ski racing is wanting it too much and I’m a firm believer in that if you try too hard at something, it’s not going to come true. Today was a step in the right direction.