SOELDEN, Austria (Reuters) - Ted Ligety completed a perfect weekend in Soelden for the American alpine skiing team, winning the season-opening giant slalom Sunday like his compatriot Lindsey Vonn had done in the women’s race the previous day.
“We’ve been training here so it’s like a home base,” said Park City skier Ligety after his ninth World Cup victory in a combined time of two minutes and 22 seconds.
The U.S. ski team have literally made the Austrian resort their home after signing a sponsorship deal with Soelden giving them access to training facilities in the village.
The team have a house in town with seven apartments for the men’s team and seven others for the women and they had been training on the Rettenbach glacier for the last two weeks.
“Between yesterday and today, it’s an all-American weekend. Lindsey showed us the way with a great show,” Ligety added.
It was one of the giant slalom world champion and World Cup holder’s main goals to win in Soelden at last after three podiums, and he did it in style ahead of young Frenchman Alexis Pinturault and Austrian Philipp Schoerghofer.
Pinturault, who earned his first World Cup podium at 19 last season in Kranjska Gora, finished 0.29 behind while Shoerghofer was a further 0.22 adrift.
Ligety, who emerged as the undisputed giant slalom number one last season and became an unexpected combined Olympic champion in Sestriere in 2006, is now aiming for the big globe — the trophy awarded to the overall World Cup winner.
To achieve his goal, he trained a little bit less in GS in the summer to work on his Super-G and slalom skills. But it did not hamper his capacities in his favorite specialty.
“I knew my giant slalom was going pretty well. But it was not easy. It was very dark in the middle section and I had to fight super hard,” said Ligety.
To realize his overall ambitions, Ligety will have to take into account the usual suspects — last year’s World Cup champion Ivica Kostelic of Croatia and Swiss Carlo Janka, the winner.
Janka, whose season was marred last year by health problems, finished fourth while Kostelic, who also had surgery this year to heal back pains, took fifth place.
Both look well-prepared to battle it out again all winter.
The World Cup will resume with a weekend of slaloms in the Finnish resort of Levi on November 12 and 13.