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US ace Ligety’s historic skiing hat-trick

American star Ted Ligety made history on Sunday with a record third straight win at Soelden in Austria in the World Cup season-opening men’s giant slalom.

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The 29-year-old, who led after the first run, gave a blistering performance (1 minute, 59.50 seconds) to beat Frenchman Alexis Pinturault (2:00.29) and Austrian Marcel Hirscher at (2:00.52).

The triple world champion – who won by an astonishing 2.75sec last year – equalled Austrian legend Hermann Maier’s three wins at Soelden. Ligety, however, is the first person to win them in consecutive seasons.

“I feel like in some ways that first race anxiety kinda helps me a little bit.

“It’s nice to be able to consistently do well here, and this is a hill that suits me well.

“You don’t have to think too much about tactics … you just have to charge and trust your skiing.

“Coming into the race, I wasn’t super confident actually until a couple of days ago,” he said, citing limited opportunities to train over the summer.

“The first run felt super smooth … (but) the second run had a couple of tricky spots.

“So I was just happy to make it to the finish line and see the green light,” he added.

With the Winter Olympics in Sochi in February, he said he wanted to remain focused on the World Cup races.

“I think the best preparation for the Olympics is the World Cup season. It gives you confidence, it keeps you sharp and just that whole competitive atmosphere keeps you going and gives you the ability to really bring your best to the Olympics.”

Downhill world champion Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway, who had been one of the favourites, finished joint fourth with France’s Steve Missillier.

The World Cup next moves to Levi in Finland on November 16-17.

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