(Reuters) – Ted Ligety lived up to his reputation as top giant slalom specialist when he won the Beaver Creek stage of the World Cup on Sunday.
The American crushed the opposition on the Golden Eagle course, winning in a combined time of two minutes 37.67 seconds. It was his first success on home snow.
Norwegian Kjetil Jansrud, the Olympic silver medallist, came second, 0.82 seconds adrift, with Austria’s Marcel Hirscher third, a huge 1.24 off the pace.
The race was the first giant slalom of the season after the opener in Austria was called off because of poor visibility.
Ligety’s five previous victories all came in Asia or Europe, including three in the Slovenian resort of Kranjska Gora.
The American’s success was as welcome as the return to top competition of Daniel Albrecht who had not skied at World Cup level since a terrible fall in Kitzbuehel two seasons ago left him in a coma for several weeks and almost cost his life.
The Swiss fared much better than expected, finishing inside the points in 21st place in 2 minutes 40.51, to prove he could still be a force to reckon with in the near future.
His compatriot Carlo Janka, the discipline’s Olympic champion and World Cup overall winner, was again disappointing, failing to finish the afternoon run after a pedestrian showing in the morning.
Ligety told reporters: “It was just a perfect day to win. I could feel all the force within me as I was going down. I’ve never won so early in the season and it’s in front of my home crowd.
“I had been doing pretty good in Beaver Creek for some time. I even came very close to winning. But I would not swap this against anything. The race was made for me.”
Albrecht, who won a giant slalom in Beaver Creek three years ago, said: “That’s some kind of a story. It’s such a great feeling to be back. I can’t believe it’s happened at last. I gave it my all.”
Albrecht, 27, who clocked the 17th fastest time in the morning run, added: “Sometimes in training it went well and sometimes less so.
“I did not know where I stood. I’m so surprised. I just want to keep doing my job without any pressure now.”