February 7, 2015 / 11:59 PM / in 3 years

Ligety eyes elusive U.S. gold in combined

BEAVER CREEK, Colorado (Reuters) - Having surrendered his Super-G crown, Ted Ligety will try to retain his super combined title and end the United States gold medal drought at the alpine ski world championships on Sunday.

Ted Ligety of the U.S.competes during the first run of the men's Alpine Skiing World Cup slalom race in Kitzbuehel January 25, 2015. REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler

Despite a stellar lineup of world and Olympic champions competing on home snow, the U.S. has yet to top the podium through the first week of the championships with Travis Ganong’s silver in the downhill and Lindsey Vonn’s bronze in the Super-G accounting for the U.S. medal haul.

Ligety, who stole the show two years ago in Schladming by capturing three world titles, finished ninth in the Super-G but will be among the hot favorites in Sunday’s combined that takes the times from a morning downhill and an afternoon slalom run and adds them together to determine a winner.

Switzerland will be bidding for their second gold in as many days after Patrick Kueng’s win on Saturday in the downhill.

But this time Swiss hopes will ride with Carlo Janka, who won a recent World Cup combined on home snow in Wengen. He also won the combined the last time it was staged in Beaver Creek, in 2009.

Janka tuned up for the combined with a strong showing in the downhill, placing ninth.

“Not too bad,” summed up Janka. “I have two parts that were not so fast, but what a day for Switzerland, two on the podium in downhill, the main event, that’s great.”

Alexis Pinturault will try to give France just their second men’s world championship gold in 33 years.

The Frenchman arrives at Beaver Creek carrying the momentum from his combined victory in Kitzbuehel two weeks ago.

The hybrid event has often produced an unexpected champion, as it did at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games where unheralded Swiss Sandro Viletta landed on top of the podium.

But the list of winners also includes some of skiing’s best with Norwegian Aksel Lund Svindal twice world champion, in 2011 and 2009.

Croatia’s Ivica Kostelic is the nearly man in the combined, having settled for silver in the event at the last three Winter Olympics and a runner-up spot to Ligety at the 2013 worlds.

Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes

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