A remarkable final run slid Ted Ligety right into the record book as the American stormed back from a first-run deficit Friday to become the only man to win three straight giant slalom titles at the world championships.
Behind Marcel Hirscher of Austria by 0.24 seconds after the morning run, Ligety found speed down the course where others couldn't and finished in an unofficial time of 2 minutes, 34.16 seconds. Hirscher was second, 0.45 seconds behind, and Alexis Pinturault of France earned the bronze.
“To be able to come through and pull it off is awesome,” said the 30-year-old Ligety, who's from Park City, Utah.
It was the first gold medal of these championships for the Americans. Ligety also won the 2011 world GS title in Germany and again two years ago in Austria, which was part of his three gold medal performance.
The fifth racer out of the gate in the final run, Ligety didn't make a single mistake on a course he knows so well. He pumped his fists again and again, knowing his time was going to be difficult to beat.
The last competitor of the afternoon, Hirscher, presented the biggest threat. But he steadily lost time throughout the course and couldn't catch Ligety.
With his win secure, Ligety tossed his ski high into the air as the fans screamed.
“My run was good. Ted's run was outstanding,” said Hirscher, who's captured a gold medal in both the Alpine combined and team event at Beaver Creek worlds.
This is why skiers on the World Cup circuit refer to Ligety as “Mr. GS.” He now has seven podium finishes at worlds, surpassing Lindsey Vonn as the American skier with the most individual medals.
“Ted was, today, in his own league,” said Germany's Felix Neureuther, who finished fourth, 1.10 seconds behind Ligety. “He's amazing.”
Especially on this hill, where he's won five World Cup races, including in December. The podium that day was Ligety, Pinturault and Hirscher.
“I love racing in the U.S.” Ligety said. “Just having that extra comfort level, being closer to home, with friends and family, is huge.”