American skier Ted Ligety earned his 25th career World Cup win at the season-opening giant slalom race on Sunday in Soelden, Austria.
The victory marked the Olympic and World GS Champion’s 50th podium finish in a World Cup race. He became the third American male skier to reach the feat after Phil Mahre and Bode Miller, who recently announced he will not race this season.
It was Ligety’s fourth win on the Rettenbach Glacier. The Austrian resort, which features an icy course with a steep pitch, is the traditional venue for the first race of the Alpine skiing season. “It was tough. I am a little bit surprised I made it to the finish line as it’s a battlefield out there,” Ligety told the Associated Press. “So many ruts in there and tough to see so I just tried to hammer and look for speed.”
He has dominated the discipline since 2012 but was beaten last year for the GS title by Austrian Marcel Hirscher, who finished third this year. Also on the podium was Thomas Fanara of France, in second place.
“It went better than I expected,” said the Salt Lake City native. “I am very relieved that I am there among the best. You see the other guys getting stronger so I have to keep up with their progress.”
Ligety accredited his win to extensive offseason training in Chile and New Zealand. “I am the type of skier that needs a lot of volume,” he said. “I ski a lot more than most skiers do. Because I do all the events but also because for me to get my confidence, I need more miles than most guys.”
The next men’s World Cup race is a slalom in Levi, Finland, on November 15.