Hirscher leads 1st run in Alta Badia; Ligety 7th
ALTA BADIA, Italy (AP) Ted Ligety needs some training.
A lot of it.
And some snow would help, too.
Struggling with a broken wrist and without the training volume he normally relies on, the Olympic champion was beaten soundly by Austrian rival Marcel Hirscher again in an unusually bumpy World Cup giant slalom race Sunday.
Hirscher led after the opening run then extended his gap in the second leg to finish a whopping 1.45 seconds ahead of Ligety for his third consecutive victory in the technical events of GS and slalom. Thomas Fanara of France placed third, 1.48 back, for his third podium result on the Gran Risa course.
Ligety, who normally dominates the GS events and has won this race twice, attributed his recent struggles to a lack of training. That's partly due to the week he lost from his injury but mostly due to a lack of snow everywhere from Chile to Colorado to the Alps.
''I'm a guy that likes a lot of skiing. I like to take 10 runs a day and ski a bunch of days. Whereas some guys don't like that kind of volume,'' said the American, who has won only one race this season. ''I get confidence out of skiing that kind of volume. Hopefully it snows somewhere or they can make snow somewhere and I get some training in.''
With little snow cover - all of it artificial - and green grass lining both sides of the steep and twisty Gran Risa, the bumps played a much bigger role than usual.
''It was definitely one of the toughest races this season. It was like mogul skiing or motocross skiing,'' said Hirscher, the three-time defending overall champion from Austria. ''But we're not searching for easy races. We're searching for challenges.''
Usually at this time of year, the Gran Risa has a smoothly groomed and icy surface that allows Ligety to perform his high-arcing, rhythmic turns to perfection - like when he won the first run by an almost unheard of 2.40 seconds two years ago.
''Normally it's like a carpet here - super smooth - and now it's super rattley,'' Ligety said.
Standing only seventh after the opening run, a distant 1.33 behind, Ligety had to alter his tactics for the second leg.
''Second run I just tried to go and, whether it felt horrible or not, just try to follow the fall line more,'' said Ligety, who is competing with four screws inserted into his left hand after breaking his wrist in a training accident last month. ''Whereas first run I was trying to be smooth and the snow wasn't letting me do it. I just kind of went with it more.''
It was Hirscher's third career victory on the Gran Risa, having also won this race last year plus a slalom in 2011. Italian great Alberto Tomba holds the record of four wins on the Gran Risa.
''If you ski too lazy and not in an aggressive style you have no chance to fight against the Gran Risa,'' Hirscher said. ''I gave 100 percent.''
In the overall, Hirscher moved within 70 points of leader Kjetil Jansrud, who finished 14th after winning a super-G in Val Gardena a day earlier.
In the GS standings, Hirscher holds a 74-point lead over Ligety.
Ligety's only win this season came when he stormed back from fourth after the opening run in a GS in Beaver Creek, Colorado, this month.
''I definitely have to try to figure out how to ski with a little more confidence in the first runs,'' he said. ''That's been one of my strengths the last couple of years.''
Perhaps, Ligety was asked, he is struggling for motivation after so many seasons at the top of GS. After all, he's won the season-long World Cup title in GS five of the last seven seasons and took gold at the Sochi Olympics in February.
''I have no problem whatsoever for motivation,'' he said. ''That's not an issue for me at all.''
Andrew Dampf can be followed at www.twitter.com/asdampf