Vonn and Ligety Shine at World Cup Opener
The Audi FIS Alpine World Cup season kicked off in Austria’s Soelden on the weekend, with Americans Ted Ligety and Lindsey Vonn of the US Ski Team claiming the top spots in the World Cup standing for men and women. For Ligety, this was his ninth World Cup win, and as defending champion, the weekend’s success was a good start to the season. Alexis Pinturault of France took second place, with Philipp Schoerghofer of Austria in third place.
Lindsey Vonn certainly appears to be etching her name in snow skiing history, as her weekend Grand Slam victory made her the fifth female to win races in all five of the Alpine disciplines – the other four skiers to have done so are Petra Kronberger (Austria), Pernilla Wiberg (Sweden), Anja Paerson (Sweden), and Janica Kostelic (Croatia). In a post-race interview Vonn admitted that she did not have much confidence as she started the race. Having hurt her hip in a practice run, the American skier had missed most of the week’s training sessions, so her objective was simply to do her best and finish the runs. Describing her victory as a “dream come true”, Vonn noted that she had seen a win in the Grand Slam as being out of her reach in this event. Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany came in second, with Elisabeth Goergl of Austria in third place.
Ligety is defending his third World Cup Grand Slam title, and his performance in the opening event of the season showed that he has what it takes to hold on to the coveted title. His win on the challenging Rettenbach glacier was a first for Ligety, and his ninth Grand Slam victory. Twice Junior GS champion, 20-year-old Alexis Pinturault came in 0.29 behind Ligety, scoring his second podium finish in the men’s GS league. Pinturault beat Ligety in Slovenia’s Kranjska Gora last season, taking second place behind Carlo Janka of Switzerland.
Skiers returning to the competitive slopes this season, having recovered from various injuries, include Robbie Dixon and Jean-Philippe Roy of Canada, and Didier Defago of Switzerland, as well as Marcel Hirscher and Benjamin Raich of Austria. Competitors acknowledge that the first race of the season is not necessarily an indicator as to how things will unfold, and with the season having just begun, skiers and spectators have lots of skiing action to look forward to.