KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia —
France earned its first Alpine medals of the Sochi Olympics, with Steve Missilier producing the day’s top second leg to earn silver, 0.48 seconds behind Ligety. Alexis Pinturault got the bronze, another 0.16 back. Overall World Cup leader Marcel Hirscher of Austria was fourth, while Bode Miller was 20th in what was his last race of the Sochi Games — and, given that he’ll be 40 in 2018, probably of his Olympic career.
Miller, who has won a U.S.-record six Alpine medals, said other racers try to copy Ligety’s revolutionary style in the giant slalom, but “he’s so much better at it than everybody else.”
Ligety maintains momentum by fluidly linking his turns, one into the next, actually taking a longer path down the slope by steering so far from each gate. Opponents cut much closer to gates, but then lose valuable hundredths of a second each time they jerk their bodies in a different direction.
“He carries so much speed and doesn’t make mistakes. Those are the things that separate him,” Miller explained. “Other guys carry speed for a couple of turns and struggle a bit. He just carries it smooth from top to bottom.”
Asked whether Ligety could have been beaten, Missiller replied: “It is impossible. For me and, I think, for all racers.”
The only other American with a pair of Olympic Alpine golds is Andrea Mead Lawrence, winner of the women’s slalom and giant slalom in 1952.
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