Ted Ligety of U.S. wins second gold medal of world championships
United States' Ted Ligety reacts after the slalom portion of the men's super-combined at the Alpine skiing world championships in Schladming, Austria, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013. / AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson
SCHLADMING, Austria Ted Ligety already has two gold medals and he hasn't even skied his best event yet.
The American won the super-combined title at the world championships Monday with a superb downhill and an equally impressive night slalom run under the lights on the icy Planai course, clocking a two-run combined time of 2 minutes, 56.96 seconds.
Ivica Kostelic of Croatia finished second, a distant 1.15 seconds behind, and Romed Baumann of host Austria took the bronze medal, 1.17 back, after leading the downhill leg.
Ligety is best known for his giant slalom skills, but also won the super-G that opened the championships. He'll be the overwhelming favorite for a third gold in Friday's GS - having won four of the five World Cup races in the discipline so far this season.
While he wasn't the last racer down, Ligety celebrated by skiing around in a circle in the finish area, then let out a series of fist pumps, knowing that it would be hard for anyone to match him.
"I was aware that I was in good position," Ligety said. "I've been on the World Cup for nine years now so I know how to handle the pressure."
Ligety was the best positioned of the technical skiers after the downhill in sixth place, only 0.72 behind Baumann.
"It's really a testament to my downhill this morning. It was awesome," Ligety said. "I knew I didn't have to push super hard in the slalom"
Ligety won the combined in the old format with two slalom runs at the 2006 Turin Olympics, but he had never finished on the podium before in super-combined.
Two-time defending champion Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway stood second after the downhill but straddled a gate in the slalom. The Norwegian, who won Saturday's downhill, said he hurt his knee slightly while pushing out of the start gate during his morning run.
Austrian veteran Benjamin Raich was well positioned after the downhill in 12th but he also straddled a gate midway down his slalom run.
"I had troubles from the start," Raich said. "Conditions were perfect for me with an icy course on a slope that I love. I am very disappointed."
Kostelic and Raich, both former overall champions, share the record of World Cup wins in super-combi with five each.
"It was a real bad run, I was too late in all the turns," Kostelic said of his slalom leg. "I did not race tactically. I just did not get into the rhythm, was too late all the time."
Alexis Pinturault of France, another pre-race favorite, was only 22nd in downhill, then had a wild slalom run. Midway down, Pinturault made a big mistake and an acrobatic recovery but still had the fastest slalom leg by a large margin to finish sixth overall.
Ligety had the second-fastest slalom run on a course featuring gradients as steep as 52 percent.
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