A victory by Ligety would also restore the U.S. to first place in the medals table. France moved ahead of the Americans when Tessa Worley won the women's GS Thursday for her country's second gold and fourth medal overall.
But it was a memorable day for the Americans, too, as teenager Mikaela Shiffrin finished sixth in her worlds' debut. Shiffrin charged to fifth in the opening run with the No. 16 bib, then had another error-free trip down in the second leg. The only time she looked like a rookie came when she stopped to take a photo of the 30,000 fans in the finish area with her iPhone.
Besides the crowd, it felt like any other race for the 17-year-old Shiffrin.
"In the end it was just me and my skis and red and blue gates," she said.
Shiffrin has won three slaloms this season to lead the discipline standings but she had never finished higher than eighth in a GS. Next up for the Burke Mountain Academy high school senior is her main event, Saturday's slalom, and Shiffrin indicated she wouldn't be happy with sixth.
"Every race, whether I do poorly or I do well, I always want more," she said. "So I'm going to be looking for a lot."
Sponsored by Italian pasta maker Barilla, Shiffrin's diet lately has consisted of mainly pizza and pasta. She eats pasta two days before races and pizza the night before.
"A couple weeks ago I was training three days in a row and I had pizza each lunch the day before the training and I had a lot of energy for the training, so I was like, 'Pizza!,'" Shiffrin said with a laugh. "I've heard that carb-loading the night before the race doesn't really work, but (the pasta) was more like two nights before, so it was perfect timing. I planned that out."
While the super-G course suited him, Hirscher kept with his plan to skip the opening week of the championships. His first event was Monday's team event, when he led Austria to gold.
"I have got my medal," Hirscher said. "That doesn't mean that I can go home now, but I am a little bit more relaxed. The pressure is lower."
Still, skiing is the top sport in Austria, Hirscher is currently the sport's biggest local star and he's competing on some of the slopes he grew up skiing on. Fans are hoping that he'll sweep the technical events and that he -- not Ligety -- ends up with three golds.
"I could do it and I hope for it, but there is no master plan," said Hirscher, who missed the 2011 worlds with a broken ankle. "I'm not a machine and I'm not a Swiss watch."