The Audi FIS Alpine World Cup season headed into the gates in Soelden, Austria, but it was not a memorable start for American ladies. That all turned around, however, when the men took the field. Ted Ligety won by an historic 2.75 margin.
Veteran Slovenian racer Tina Maze charged to her fifth Soelden win since 2005 by edging out a .42 victory over Austria’s Kathrin Zettel on the resort’s Rettenbach Glacier.
Vonn, defending champion, was off the pace in the first run before going out in the second. Mancuso lost a ski and went down in the first run, while Shiffrin missed the top 30 final by .01.
“In the first run, I felt I skied solid, but didn’t risk enough,” said Vonn. “The second run I was trying to make up two and a half seconds, which is tough to do, and I got my arm caught on a gate. Visibility was really bad today. I think five of the first ten went out.” She said she “just had to fight harder than I did today – lesson learned.”
Mancuso said she “had a lot of confidence and I’ll just have to save it for Aspen.” Shiffrin said she “was a little bummed,” but was looking forward to the season. The women now head home for the opening of the U.S. Speed Center at Copper Mountain Oct. 31.
Ligety's GS win was his 12th on the World Cup circuit and his sixth straight podium at Soelden. He raced through what was described as a "raging blizzard with his second run in a near whiteout. It was the seventh largest margin of victory in World Cup GS history.
"I'm psyched," Ligety said. "I didn't want to leave anything out there. I was hammering. I didn't expect anything like this. This is a once in a career kind of margin and was really a surprise to me."
Meanwhile, those who follow alpine ski racing will be heartened to learn that Universal Sports Network has unveiled its plans to showcase 35 international ski competitions this winter over 140 hours of total television coverage. The network’s broadcast team includes veteran play-by-play announcer Steve Porino and analyst Doug Lewis, a two time Olympic downhiller. The full schedule is online.
Top Photo: Slovenia's Tina Maze (AFP); Bottom Photo: Ted Ligety (AFP)