Wengen, Switzerland • Ted Ligety was already the favorite for Olympic gold in giant slalom. He may have just made himself the frontrunner in another discipline as well.
The American giant slalom specialist earned his first super-combined victory on the World Cup on Friday — a discipline he already owns an Olympic and world championship title in but had curiously never won on the season-long circuit.
The American trailed Alexis Pinturault of France after the morning slalom leg but surpassed last year’s Wengen super-combined winner in the decisive downhill run on the classic Lauberhorn slope.
"This is definitely a big victory for me," said Ligety, whose previous 19 career World Cup wins all came in giant slalom. "It’s a nice little confidence boost and step in the right direction for getting ready for Sochi."
Ligety won three gold medals at the 2013 world championships at Schladming, Austria, but has struggled to establish himself as an all-around skier on the grueling World Cup tour.
"It is going to be difficult to repeat what I did in Schladming — that was kind of a dream two weeks," Ligety acknowledged. "I know I have the ability to be on the podium in combined and super-G if things stack up for me."
They did Friday on what United States head coach Sasha Rearick called a "great day" for the team, citing a key assist from teammate Bode Miller.
Utahn Noelle Pikus-Pace and her top rival flip-flopped again on the World Cup skeleton circuit Friday, with Great Britain’s Elizabeth Yarnold winning her fourth race of the season in Igls, Austria.
Pikus-Pace was second.
The sliders had each won three of the previous six World Cup races, heading into the penultimate race of the season, and the other had finished at least third in every race but one — setting up a dramatic showdown at the 2014 Sochi Olympics after the final World Cup race of the season next weekend in Konigssee, Germany.
Pikus-Pace clocked a two-run combined time of 1 minute, 49.32 seconds — a massive 0.32 seconds behind Yarnold. Janine Flock of Austria and Maria Orlova of Russia tied for third, another 0.35 seconds back.
Shaun White is all but assured of another shot at Olympic halfpipe gold. And White’s latest trick looks ready to lead the charge for a three-peat.
White dominated Friday afternoon’s qualifying event at Mammoth Mountain, Calif., posting a score of 98.6 to move closer to one of the four spots on the U.S. Olympic halfpipe team.
The two-time gold medalist landed the frontside double-cork 1440 in competition for the first time in the run-up to next month’s winter games in Sochi, Russia.
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