Ted Ligety eyeing fourth World Cup giant slalom title
KRANJSKA GORA, Slovenia (AP) -- Ted Ligety remains eager for success despite owning three world championship gold medals.
The American is poised to win his fourth World Cup giant slalom title and finish a career-best third in the overall standings.
Ligety will win the GS crystal globe on Saturday if he finishes ahead of his sole rival, Austria's Marcel Hirscher.
Ligety won the season-opener in October by a massive 2.75-seconds, setting the tone for a dominant GS campaign that included three more wins. He leads Hirscher, who beat him for the GS title last year, by 105 points. Each win is worth 100 points.
"I am trying not to calculate too much," Ligety told The Associated Press. "(It's) a good margin, but not a comfortable margin. That can be erased pretty quickly. I am in a good position. I like this hill. I am lucky we're in Kranjska Gora, not in Val d'Isere for instance."
Ligety has an impressive track record at Kranjska Gora, with four victories and a third-place finish on two occasions in the last six seasons. The shape of the Podkoren course and the snow conditions suit his style of skiing more than any other World Cup resort.
The World Cup finals are next week in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.
"If I lock it up, it leaves me a little bit more room to have freedom at the finals," Ligety said. "I could do the downhill and focus on other events as well. The goal is to stay in the top three for the overall title. Felix (Neureuther) is pretty close to me and he is a very capable skier, too."
Ligety holds an 11-point lead over the fourth-place German. Ligety is more than 400 points behind leader Hirscher, who will battle it out for the overall title with Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal in the remaining six races.
Finishing third would add to Ligety's success at last month's world championships and underline the 28-year-old's improving all-around capabilities.
"That's another step forward in the right direction," said Ligety, whose previous overall best was fifth in 2008. "If a couple of things go better for me next year, I could be much more in it. I need to score 600-plus points in giant slalom, 200-plus points in super-G, and 300 or 400 points in slalom."
The world titles in GS, super-combined and super-G earned Ligety the nickname "King of Schladming."
"That was really a dream come true, but I am still the same guy," Ligety said. "My goal isn't to walk the red carpet and all that kind of stuff, my goal is to ski and to have fun at that ... I don't really care to be a celebrity. It's not always that much fun being that kind of person. I am happy to be where I am right now."
Ligety is eager to take the next step after wrapping up his most successful season so far. He aims to become a serious contender for the overall title in a year that will be highlighted by the Sochi Winter Olympics.
His hat trick at the worlds ensures he'll help spearhead the U.S. team for the Olympics.
"That's a cool thing to be part of," said Ligety, who trained on the Olympic hill in Sochi last week. "The big stories are going to be Bode (Miller) and Lindsey (Vonn) coming back, and Mikaela (Shiffrin) as well. In a way I needed to have that kind of world championships to be on the radar."