By Manuele Lang
WENGEN, Switzerland, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Below par for more than a month, triple world champion Ted Ligety bounced back to form by landing his first World Cup super-combined victory on Friday.
The giant slalom, super-G and super-combined gold medallist in Schladming last season had failed to complete five of his last seven races and eyebrows were being raised with next month's Sochi Olympics on the horizon.
However, the format of the Wengen super-combined, in which the slalom is held before the downhill, was a big help to the versatile Ligety.
"I'm really happy with this victory because up to now I always managed to win a combined in medal events but I'd never managed to repeat it at World Cup level," said the American who shot to fame by becoming combined Olympic champion in Turin in 2006.
"Wengen is really the ideal place for a first time. Today is an important win because it's not in a giant slalom where I know exactly where I stand and what I'm looking for.
"It's also the end of a bad run and I really needed to make amends."
Clocking a combined two minutes 44.74 seconds, Ligety beat Frenchman Alexis Pinturault by 0.22 while Croatian specialist Natko Zrncic-Dim was third, 1.08 off the pace.
"Clearly the format with the slalom first helped a lot as I didn't have to start at the back of the pack like in so many super-combineds," said Ligety after capturing his 20th World Cup victory.
"This fills me with confidence for Kitzbuehel next weekend when the super-combined will be with a super-G which gives even more chances."
Ligety will be back in action in Sunday's slalom in the famous Swiss resort of Wengen.
"My number one goal in Sochi will be the giant slalom even if I have good chances in the super-combined and super-G as we saw last year in Schladming," he said. "But I'm aware it's going to be difficult to repeat that feat.
"I'll go there to win three medals, maybe not all gold. But I like the course, it reminds me of Beaver Creek," he added, referring to the piste in Colorado. (Editing by Tony Jimenez)