Ligety Holds Off Hirscher for 4th GS Title

American star takes insurmountable lead into final week of World Cup racing.
Ligety Win in Germany

From the department of forgone conclusions: American GS ace Ted Ligety clinched his fourth World Cup GS title Sunday with a win in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia.

After watching Marcel Hirscher of Austria steal the title by a narrow margin last year, Ligety came back with a vengeance, finishing on the podium in all seven GS races and winning five of them, often in utterly dominant fashion. He also defended his GS World Championship title this year, showing that he’s virtually unbeatable in what many consider racing’s most important event. Not even this season’s controversial rule change mandating longer-radius GS skis, which Ligety so vehemently opposed, could slow him down.

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On Sunday, Ligety built a .6 second lead over Hirscher in the first run, then held on to win by .45 seconds, taking an insurmountable 125-point lead in the GS standings into the upcoming World Cup finals.THEY

Hirscher, who leads the standings in both slalom and combined, appears to be a virtual lock for the men’s overall title with 1,375 points, well ahead of both Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway (1,276 points), who is second in the standings, and Ligety (922 points), who is third.

It was Ligety’s fifth GS win at Kranjska Gora, and after the race he acknowledged that Hirscher kept the heat on him. “Hirscher was there all season,” he told reporters. “Even if I beat him by three seconds, he was still in second place. That makes it tough going for the title. It makes it a head game when he’s so close all the time.”

The World Cup finals are in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, this week. After a full slate of men’s and women’s events, the season ends Sunday. On Thursday, American speed-event specialist Julia Mancuso gets a final shot at Slovenia’s Tina Maze for the Super G title. Maze leads that event with 420 points; Mancuso is second with 385 points.

After Sunday’s wrap up races (women’s GS, men’s slalom), Ligety and his U.S. Ski Team mates sets their sights on the 2013-14 season and the Sochi Olympics.