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Ligety wins World Cup opening GS with massive lead

 France's Thomas Fanara competes during the first run of an alpine ski, men's World Cup giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012. (AP P...
 Ted Ligety, of the United States, passes a gate during the first run of an alpine ski, men's World Cup giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, Sunday, Oct....
 France's Thomas Fanara passes a gate during the first run of an alpine ski, men's World Cup giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012. ...

Austria Alpine Skiing World Cup

France's Thomas Fanara competes during the first run of an alpine ski, men's World Cup giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012. (AP P...

Austria Alpine Skiing World Cup

Ted Ligety, of the United States, passes a gate during the first run of an alpine ski, men's World Cup giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, Sunday, Oct....

Austria Alpine Skiing World Cup

France's Thomas Fanara passes a gate during the first run of an alpine ski, men's World Cup giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012. ...

Ted Ligety took the season-opening men's World Cup giant slalom on Sunday by the biggest winning margin since 1979.
In difficult conditions due to fog and snowfall, the American GS world champion won the race by a massive 2.75 seconds ahead of Manfred Moelgg of Italy.
"It's pretty phenomenal," Ligety said. "I didn't think this was possible. This is an unbelievable gap, a once-in-a-career margin."
According to the International Ski Federation, the time difference between winner and runner-up in a World Cup GS has only been bigger six times before _ all in the 1970s. Sweden's standout Ingemar Stenmark holds the record with 4.06 seconds.
In the opening run, Ligety was among the first eight starters who were slowed by bad weather causing poor visibility before the sky cleared. He still posted the second-fastest time, trailing Thomas Fanara of France by 0.04.
"The first run starting that early was a disadvantage but it fired me up for the second run," Ligety said. "It gave me a lot of motivation because I felt I should have been in the lead and opened up a gap."
The American put in a risky yet error-free final run to claim victory in impressive style. Overall World Cup champion Marcel Hirscher came third, 3.12 seconds behind.
"I knew I was skiing well. I was going fast in training," Ligety said. "In the second run, I took more risks than anyone else, more than what was really smart, so I got a bit lucky there."
It was Ligety's 12th career win, all in GS. The American won the race here last season as well but ultimately lost his GS title to Hirscher.
Ligety's achievement came in the first GS under new equipment rules, which force racers to use longer and smaller skis with a larger radius.
A year ago, Ligety led a group of racers who were fiercely criticizing FIS when the federation announced the changes in an attempt to make the sport safer and reduce the number of injuries.
"I have been working really hard on these new skis to get to the point where I knew I was going to be among the best," Ligety said. "They are not as bad as a lot of us thought they would be. There is still a challenge as you get tired on them more easily. The argument we had last year is still very valid as I don't think they are any safer."
Half-time leader Fanara took fourth, 3.23 seconds behind. Favorites like Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway, Cyprien Richard of France and Andre Myhrer of Sweden, who was third after the first leg, failed to finish their final run.
Switzerland's Beat Feuz, who had knee surgery after finishing runner-up to Hirscher in the overall standings last season, decided not to start the race.
The next men's World Cup race is a slalom in Levi, Finland, on Nov. 11.


Updated : 2020-12-03 03:44 GMT+08:00