Ski season is upon us!
Ted the Shred Ligety won his third consecutive World Cup season opener in Soelden, Austria Sunday.
The 29-year-old Ligety dominated the World Cup GS race circuit last year by making the podium in every race and winning three gold medals in the World Championships. He continued his dominance in Soelden despite slushy conditions on the glacier. He beat Alex Pinturault of France by 0.79 seconds and Austria's Marcel Hirscher by 1.02 seconds, launching the 2013-14 season as the overwhelming favorite to win GS gold at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Ligety, who runs a summer racing camp on Mount Hood, is widely regarded to be a pretty awesome guy. He doesn't just blow in and out of his Hood camp celebrity-style but spends real time with the kids and makes connections with the families.
Ligety didn't get much competition from fellow gold medalist Bode Miller on Sunday, but Miller did bounce back from injuries to crack the top 20. It was the 36-year-old Miller's first World Cup race since February 2012 and he told Ski Racing Magazine that his knee felt better than it has since 2001.
Racing conditions were better for the women's giant slalom held the day before in Solden. Lara Gut of Switzerland won her first World Cup race in 10 years, finishing ahead of Austria’s Kathrin Zettel and Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany.
The 18-year-old slalom sensation Mikaela Shiffrin finished sixth in the Soelden GS. It was her best World Cup result in GS and a strong signal that she has a future in more than one style of racing. Shiffrin won the world championships in slalom last season and is the favorite to take slalom gold in Sochi.
Olympic gold medalist Julia Mancuso finished a disappointing 27th in Soelden. Lindsey Vonn opted not to compete as she continues to recover from her harrowing fall in a World Cup race last February.
For all of Ligety's dominance in giant slalom racing, he has yet to match Vonn and Miller in capturing the overall World Cup title. That is his goal this season, along with winning a bunch of gold medals in Sochi.
Have you ever seen helmet camera footage of Ligety training? I highly recommend it. In fact, if I had influence at NBC I would find a way to incorporate POV footage into Olympic skiing coverage. It just gives you a way better sense of how fast these guys are going: