KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Ted Ligety crossed the finish line, swirled to a stop, and saw the number “1” next to his name on a large screen. The overwhelming emotion? Relief.
Ligety entered Wednesday’s giant slalom as the top-ranked skier in the world in the event, a two-time defending world champion and winner of four of the last six season titles. Simply put, he has dominated the event.
But Ligety learned at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics that gold-medal-favorite status guarantees nothing. He came away from Vancouver empty-handed, refocused his training and race mentality, and set his sights on the Sochi Games.
Ligety came for gold in giant slalom and effectively claimed it with a dominant first run. He opened a .93-second gap on the field, making his second run more coronation than competition. With trademark turns that push his body practically horizontal to the snow, Ligety made the tactically challenging course look easy. Although he finished 14th in the second run, he maintained a sizable advantage and took the gold by .48 seconds.
France’s Steve Missillier earned silver. Fellow Frenchman Alexis Pinturault, who regularly reaches World Cup podiums in the giant slalom and could be broadly considered a Ligety rival, finished .64 seconds back for bronze.
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