To share the podium with Bode is awesome. I’m a little bit surprised actually. It was impressive how he was able to bring his intensity up and put down some impressive runs. That’s cool to have another American guy challenging me up there. —Park City ski racer Ted Ligety, who finished first in the giant slalom Sunday ahead of Bode Miller
BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — Park City ski racer Ted Ligety did what no man has done since 1991, while his teammate Bode Miller did what no one expected.
Ligety won his fourth consecutive giant slalom race Sunday afternoon, a feat last accomplished by legendary Italian skier Alberto Tomba in the 1991 season, with a combined two-run time of 2:35.77. Miller joined the 29-year-old on the podium with a silver-medal time of 2:37.09.
Miller last stood on a GS podium eight years ago, and he skied aggressively and almost flawlessly after nearly 18 months away from the sport recovering from knee surgery.
“To share the podium with Bode is awesome,” Ligety said after laying down the fastest times on both runs despite snowy conditions. “I’m a little bit surprised actually. It was impressive how he was able to bring his intensity up and put down some impressive runs. That’s cool to have another American guy challenging me up there.”
Ligety said Miller’s feat is even more impressive because two years ago officials changed the skis required to compete on the tour, and they are much more unforgiving.
“It’s impressive especially since he hasn’t had the miles on the new GS skis that a lot of us have had,” Ligety said.
The day was the best Miller has had since he returned to competition, but it really belonged to Ligety, who writes a little more history with every victory. He’s won four overall World Cup titles and won the world championship last season. He also won the super-G and the combined world championships — something no man had accomplished for more than four decades.
He said his success has made him confident, but not comfortable.
“The way I’ve been skiing giant slalom the last year and a half or so, I think I have a lot of confidence to put down fast runs,” Ligety said. “I have confidence in my ability to win, but I don’t think it’s a sure thing at all.”
He also said he welcomes pressure from his very accomplished teammate.
“I think it’s good to have somebody that you train with on a regular basis that pushes you,” he said.
Miller promises to do just that.
I wanted to make sure when I got to the finish line, I at least let him know that I was coming for him and there was no coasting.”
Miller’s best finish in five races this season was 13th place. He said he knew to even challenge his younger teammate, he’d have to give the hill everything he had.
“Even though I took maybe a little bit too much risk and made some mistakes, I really wanted to ski 100 percent,” he said. “To be able to beat somebody like Ted, that’s what you have to do. You have to be able to go absolutely 100 percent top to bottom with no mistakes and no fatigue.”
BRONZE TIES BEST FINISH FOR CROSS-COUNTRY SKIERS
World champion Jessie Diggins of Minnesota anchored a strong U.S. team made up of Kikkan Randall (Alaska), Sadie Bjornsen (Washington), and Liz Stephen (Vermont to take third in the 4-x-5 kilometer relay. The bronze medal matches the best finish for any U.S. cross-country team.
Heavy snow hammered the 1994 Olympic course, but Randall was able to give the team a solid start in the podium hunt. Next weekend the World Cup moves to Davos, Switzerland, where the men and women will race a 30k/15k freestyle distance race and a freestyle sprint.
SPEEDSKATING SUCCESS CONTINUES
Heather Richardson and Brittany Bowe continued to show why they're favorites to medal in Sochi this February. Richardson won gold in the 1,000 meters while setting a track record of 1:14.51 in Berlin. Bowe was second with a time of 1:15.42.
Richardson also won a bronze in the 500 meters, while Joey Mantia won gold in the women's 1,500 meters.
The teams return to Utah for Olympic trials the last week of December.