KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – With the gold medal in his signature event already secured, American Alpine skier Ted Ligety is threatening to bring home another medal in what would be considered an upset. After the first of two runs in the Olympic slalom race – which concludes the Alpine competition at the Sochi Games – Ligety sits in sixth place, well within striking distance of the podium.
Austria’s Mario Matt leads the field of 117 racers with a time of 46.70 seconds, 0.45 seconds faster than Sweden’s Andre Myhrer. Italy’s Stefano Gross and Sweden’s Mattias Hargin are tied for third, 0.75 seconds back of Matt – but just 0.11 ahead of Ligety.
“That was definitely a better slalom run than I’ve had in a little while,” Ligety said. “To be in sixth place after the first run is definitely a good position, only a tenth out of the medals. If I have another run like that and ski inspired, and hold off some of those more slalom-oriented skiers, I have a chance at it.”
Ligety won the gold medal in giant slalom on Wednesday, but he hasn’t placed in the top three of a World Cup slalom race since 2008 in Wengen, Switzerland. His last top 10 came late in 2012, 14 races ago.
But with his primary events already past here, he has a shot. Austria’s Marcel Hirscher, the leader of the World Cup slalom standings, struggled to ninth position after the first run, 1.08 seconds out of the lead and nearly a quarter second behind Ligety. Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen, second in the standings, sits 15th.
“I can’t really hold anything back this next run,” Ligety said. “I got to go just as hard.”
Fellow American Nolan Kasper sits 18th, while David Chodounsky missed a gate and will not qualify for the second run, which is scheduled for 11:15 a.m. EST.