Ted Ligety finishes fourth in Italy
Ted Ligety (Park City) led a recharged men’s tech team and just missed the podium as the Americans rebounded from a disappointing first run performance. Ligety led the way, finishing fourth, followed by Tim Jitloff (Reno, Nevada) in seventh and Tommy Ford (Bend, Oregon) in 12th.
Austria’s Marcel Hirscher won his third-straight Audi FIS Alpine World Cup giant slalom, and became the only racer in history to win three times at Alta Badia, Italy. Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway was second, followed by Victor Muffat-Jeandet of France in third.
Following a disappointing first run for the Americans, the athletes and coaching staff made a few changes to re-charge for the second run. Ford was first to start the second run and posted the fastest second run of the day.
"I finally let it go second run and skied really well [and] skied clean," Ford said.
"We made some good adjustments for the second run by the staff and athletes to find where the speed was on the hill and attack it," said Head Men’s Coach Sasha Rearick. "Absolutely career best run for Tommy Ford on the second run. He was impressive — very, very, impressive!"
Ligety and Jitloff sat 1-2 on the leaderboard midway through the second run after nailing the middle section and carrying speed into a pair of rollers (that will be used for Monday’s parallel giant slalom) into the finish. They watched as racer after racer failed to knock them off the leaderboard.
France’s Mathieu Faivre and Alexis Pinturault finally split the U.S. leaders, knocking Jitloff to fourth as Ligety remaining atop the leaderboard with three racers remaining. However, the victory wasn’t meant to be for Ligety as Muffat-Jeandet moved into the lead, followed by the 21-year-old Kristoffersen, and finally Hirscher, whose victory solidified his lead atop the World Cup giant slalom standings.
"I knew going into the second run that I needed to throw down a great run, because my performance to this point has just been OK and not up to my capabilities," Jitloff said. "I was very nervous for sure, but that nervousness helped push me."
For Ligety, just getting back toward the top of the leaderboard was a major accomplishment, but he admits he still has a lot of work to do after suffering through back issues for the past couple of months.
"I feel a bit smaller and weaker than I was two months ago," said Ligety, who took three weeks off from training to rest his back. "I don’t have any pain anymore; but I just need to get back to being strong again."
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The Miners ended up on the wrong side of a close game on senior night but are still fighting for playoff seeding.