Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Ligety-split is really fast, but he's legal

American downhill sensation passes all equipment tests

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MADONNA DI CAMPIGLIO, Italy -- Ted Ligety's recent domination of giant slalom skiing has resulted in the American being hailed as a "phenomenon," a "superhero" and "unreal."

It's also left some rivals questioning whether his equipment conforms to new sidecut radius rules introduced by the International Ski Federation for this season that limit the hourglass shape of skis.

But the FIS says no equipment rules have been breached.

"It would be nice if people would be more observant of all the preparation Ted has done, and all the training he did with the new equipment," U.S. technical coach Mike Day said. "That's why he's dominating."

It's been mainly Italian skiers raising questions, after they couldn't keep up with Ligety on home snow in Sunday's race in Alta Badia, when Ligety won the first run by a massive 2.40 seconds.

Ligety ended up winning with a 2.04-second margin ahead of runner-up Marcel Hirscher of Austria, the defending overall World Cup winner.

Ligety also won the first two GS races this season by large margins, finishing 2.75 ahead in Soelden, Austria, and 1.76 in front in Beaver Creek, Colorado.

Swedish legend Ingemar Stenmark set the record for margin of victory at 4.06 in 1978-79.

Still, Ligety became the first man since Stenmark in 1978-79 to win two giant slaloms in the same season with an advantage of more than two seconds.

In an article in Italian mainstream daily Corriere della Sera on Monday with a title that could be translated as "Ligety even more giant, amid talent and the usual suspects," skiers Manfred Moelgg and Davide Simoncelli each pondered the legality of the American's equipment.

"It seems to me the tails are wider," Moelgg said.

Simoncelli said: "It does raise some doubts."

A similar article appeared in the Gazzetta dello Sport.

FIS equipment controller Mike Kertesz measures racers' skis, boots and suits with random checks in the finish area at all men's events.

"I know it was an amazing run," Kertesz told The Associated Press on Monday. "From everyone's perspective, it was like, 'What did that guy do?' But I measured his skis in both runs and I measured his race suit for permeability since he was in the top three, and he was within the FIS equipment rules."

Kertesz performs at least four different measurements: radius of ski, minimum width of ski, maximum width at the tip, and binding height.

So far only two men have been disqualified this season.

Austrian veteran Mario Matt lost a top-10 finish in a slalom in Levi, Finland, because his binding height was a tenth of a millimeter too high, and Luca De Aliprandini of Italy lost his first World Cup points during a super-G in Beaver Creek, Colorado, because his skis were too wide.

Surprisingly, there have been no equipment breaches in giant slalom, which was the discipline hardest hit by the new sidecut rules, which went from a 28- to 35-meter radius.

"All of the guys are very close," Kertesz said. "They're all within one meter of the 35-meter limit."

Ligety was the biggest critic of the new rules, but he was also one of the first athletes to start testing the new skis, even using them in a couple races at the end of last season.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 18, 2012 C13

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