SOCHI, Russia --American favorite Ted Ligety took a huge lead in the first run of the Olympic giant slalom after the top 30 racers Wednesday.
Only a surprising run by one of the remaining 79 lower-ranked skiers would deprive Ligety of the lead.
After dominating this discipline the last two seasons, Ligety sped down the Rosa Khutor course in 1 minute, 21.08 seconds.
Ondrej Bank on the Czech Republic was second, 0.93 seconds behind, after the top 30. Davide Simoncelli of Italy was third, 1.27 behind.
French contender Alexis Pinturault stood sixth, 1.36 behind, and overall World Cup leader Marcel Hirscher of Austria was seventh, 1.39 behind Ligety.
The second run was scheduled for 2:30 a.m. Pacific time.
"I've had a lot of races where I've had this kind of lead and a pretty good track record maintaining that and winning those," Ligety said. "I know that I don't have to take the mega-risk."
Downhill gold medalist Matthias Mayer of Austria and Thomas Fanara of France were tied for fourth, 1.33 behind.
"Ted, he is Mr. GS," Simoncelli said. "When he pushes, we watch."
Conditions were perfect, with the temperature right at the freezing level and skies partly cloudy.