Ted Ligety has captured his second gold medal of the 2013 World Ski Championships in Schladming. The American finished first in the men's super-combined to add to his super-G title last week.
The 28-year-old Ligety clinched the victory with a combined time of 2 minutes 56.96 seconds Monday in Austria, and finished more than a second better than Croatia's Ivica Kostelic (2:58.11) and Austrian Romed Baumann (2:58.13).
After finishing sixth in the mid-day downhill run, Ligety adopted a risky strategy on the steep and icy slalom course at the bottom of the Planai piste.
"I took all the risks after my great downhill run," he told reporters. "I knew I had a chance but I was looking to ski smart also, it was easy to ski out as the run was so tough."
After coming across the finish line, Ligety threw his hands up in the air, knowing his time had made him a medal contender even though there were still five skiers ahead of him.
"I knew I was in a good position," said Ligety, whose win comes seven years after he won the event at the 2006 Olympics.
Kostelic second, Svindal doesn't finish
Kostelic was considered the favorite heading into Monday's event after winning Kitzbuehel's classic combined for the fourth time just before the worlds, and the Croatian says he was surprised by his second-place finish.
"I didn't find a good rhythm today and I had a bad feeling going through that run," he said. "It was bad skiing."
Baumann received a warm cheer from the home crowd when finished third after fighting through the 64 slalom gates on the course's famous floodlight hill.
"I was unnerved during the inspection. The hill is so steep and icy. But then it went better than I thought," he said. "I heard the people scream and the stadium announcer 'you are in second' [at the last split]."
Finland's Andreas Romar nearly achieved a shock podium position, finishing 17 hundredths of a second off Baumann to come fourth.
Fifth place finisher Sandro Viletta of Switzerland suffered a huge scare during his run when a piste worker suddenly entered the course on skis while he was on his high-speed downhill run. Viletta managed to ski around the man.
Two-time defending champion Aksel Lund Svindal stood in second place after the downhill, but the Norwegian straddled a gate in the slalom.
Ligety's success at Schladming has been all the more impressive considering he'd never won a super-G or super-combined at a World Cup before this year. But his performances of late give him the strong possibility of finishing with a formidable hat-trick when he attempts to defend his title in the giant slalom on Friday.
"My slalom has not been so satisfying in recent seasons but this performance will encourage me to keep fighting hard to improve my level in that speciality too," Ligety said. "Now I'm looking forward to another great race in the [giant slalom]. There will only be one possible tactic then – charge as hard as possible."
The Utahan's championship showing over the last several days has made him the star of the World Championships, but the American is remaining focused ahead of Friday's event.
"I don't care about being the superstar," he said. "The main thing is that I am skiing well."
dr/ccp (Reuters, dpa, AP, AFP)