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US ace Ligety records historic hat-trick at Soelden

US' Ted Ligety celebrates his victory after competing in the men's giant slalom at the FIS Ski World Cup on October 27, 2013 in Soelden, Austria
US' Ted Ligety celebrates his victory after competing in the men's giant slalom at the FIS Ski World Cup on October 27, 2013 in Soelden, Austria

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

The 29-year-old, who led after the first run, gave a blistering performance 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 here. 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," he said.

"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 Olympics in Sochi in February, he said he wanted to remain focussed 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."

Ligety has already said he is aiming for the overall World Cup title this season.

"It's a nice confirmation that I'm on the right way," he said.

Pinturault, 22, made up some early lost time to finish second, equalling his performance from 2011, for his 15th World Cup podium.

"For the beginning (of the season), a second place is perfect. We will try to build something around this podium," he said.

"I think I'm really strong this year... I'll try to be faster and faster," he added.

Hirscher, the home-crowd favourite, put in a risky two runs, threatening to ski out on several occasions but finished third as he did last year.

"It's not easy to stand up there at the start, so many people are expecting great things from me," he said.

"But right now I am so happy and satisfied with another podium."

Hirscher drew comfort from the fact Ligety's winning margin was much reduced.

"It's good to see that we came that little bit closer in one year," said Hirscher.

"Exactly one year ago we were more than three seconds behind Ted. Now I can say it's pretty ok to be one second behind Ted...and maybe I can beat him once!"

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

The skiers had to tackle the course on the Rettenbach glacier, at 3,000 metres (9,840 feet) altitude, amid constantly changing conditions.

Ahead of the first run already, the race start had to be lowered due to strong winds.

US ski king Bode Miller, who took last season off and was competing in his first World Cup race since February 2012, skied smoothly but finished 19th.

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

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