Ligety, Hirscher set for giant clash at worlds

Thu Feb 12, 2015 1:55pm EST
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By Steve Keating

BEAVER CREEK, Colorado (Reuters) - The giant slalom on Friday is the final chance for American Ted Ligety to defend one of his three alpine ski championship gold medals in what could produce one of the classic battles of the competition.

Ligety, the world and Olympic champion in the discipline known as Mr. GS for his domination of the event, has seen his reign challenged by Austrian slalom maestro Marcel Hirscher, who has already claimed the American's combined world title.

Hirscher, the three-times overall World Cup champion, has invaded Ligety's territory this season by winning four of five giant slaloms and finishing third in the other.

Ligety, who has owned the GS crown since the 2011 worlds, has 39 World Cup giant slalom podiums and 23 career wins but this season has reached the top step on the podium just once.

That lone win, however, came in Beaver Creek on the same Birds of Prey track skiers will challenge on Friday.

"If there's a hill I think I have a really good chance on it's a hill like this," Ligety told Reuters. "It is a hill I've had lots of good results on.

"I've always had a good track record racing in the United States. I don't see it as a burden, I see it as more of an advantage."

Certainly no skier has taken more advantage of home snow than Ligety with eight giant slalom podiums at Beaver Creek, including four straight wins.   Continued...

Feb 10, 2015; Vail, CO, USA; Ted Ligety of the United States after his race in the first round in the Nations Team Event during the FIS alpine skiing world championships at Golden Peak Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports