SOLEDEN, Austria — Ted Ligety started the ski season right where he left off last year — making history.
The Park City native became the first man in history to win three consecutive World Cup GS races in Soelden, Austria. Ligety beat France’s Alexis Pinturault by .79 seconds to earn his 18th victory in the first Alpine race of the season.
“I was definitely a little anxious coming into this race, just because you never really know how you stand,” Ligety said. “In training last year, I was winning by a second and a half versus everybody, and this time I was getting beat in training sometimes. So it’s good to know you’re actually still fast. And we have a lot of guys who are skiing fast, so it’s nice to get some confirmation.”
Ligety said competition is the best preparation for the 2014 Olympics.
“I think the best preparation for the Olympics is the World Cup season because that gives you the confidence,” he said. “It keeps you sharp, and just that whole competitive atmosphere keeps you going and gives you the ability to bring your best skiing to the Olympics.”
He said that’s how he managed to make history at last year’s World Championship where he won three titles.
“That’s what happened at World Championships last year,” he said. “I had a lot of confidence with my super G and my giant slalom skiing, and I was able to roll into some medals. So right now my main focus is doing well in the World Cups, and then come the week before the Olympics, I’m going to think about the Olympics.”
Ligety said the second run was difficult, as it usually is, and a couple of sections were treacherous.
“It wasn’t clean but it was what I had to do to get the victory,” he said. “It’s a good day for sure. Any win is a good win, and it’s cool I’ve been able to have this kind of success here in Soelden. It’s always treated me well, ever since my first time racing here. So it’s definitely nice to get a win right off the bat.”
Bode Miller, recovering from a knee injury, had a top-20 finish racing in his first World Cup since February 2012.
“It was disappointing skiing today,” Miller said. “I didn’t really come in with much of a goal. I wanted to obviously finish and see where I stacked up. I was hoping to ski similar to how I skied in training. That’s always my goal. But you know, sometimes it doesn’t happen.”
Ligety will be in New York City Tuesday to receive the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Olympic SportsMan of the Year award. It’s part of the 100 days out to Sochi festivities.