WENGEN, Switzerland Jan. 14, 2007 (USSA Release)—Olympic combined champion Ted Ligety (Park City, NH) fought his way through softening snow in the slalom phase of a World Cup super combined race Sunday to finish 10th while Bode Miller (Bretton Woods, NH) - second in the downhill - straddled a gate early in his final run.
Austrian Mario Matt was 34th in the downhill race but started No. 1 as the temperatures soared above 50 degrees for the slalom and several skiers elected not to run slalom; he had the fastest SL run and won in 2:27.87. Ligety, 17th in the DH, finished with a two-run time of 2:29.08 and Steven Nyman (Provo, UT), the only other American to finish on a course with a few muddy spots.
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A day after Miller won the famed 77th Lauberhorn downhill, temperatures were in the mid-30s during the downhill race but had climbed above 50 when the slalom was staged on a south-facing, different slope. Organizers had poured stabilizing chemicals into the snow, but the sunshine and mild weather undercut their best efforts to produce the hard, icy course World Cup racers prefer.
"Nobody had a chance after Matt. It's not fair to the athletes but it's not fair to the spectators, either. This is not good ski racing when nobody has a chance after the first guy," Ligety said.
"I made mistakes, but not two-and-a-half seconds worth of mistakes. It's very frustrating. It's not fun to race when it's way too soft...
"The downhill course doesn't face into the sun like the slalom hill," Ligety added, "and it's at a higher elevation, so it's colder. It's also a lot in the shade, so it held up pretty well. But I'm here in a turtleneck and it's over 50. It's crazy."
Head Coach Phil McNichol said the conditions were another casualty of the snow drought and balmy temperatures afflicting so much of Europe's ski regions. "That's been the whole season - cancellation, program changes, limited training...but what can you do? We had mud today in a few turns and it certainly wasn't pretty. They definitely World Cup conditions."
Nonetheless, he said he was "surprised where Bode straddled; it was an open gate, not some particularly tricky section...but he survived almost hooking a gate in the downhill, up in the super G turns, his ski went out and he made a nice recovery. Ted skied exceptionally well in the downhill - a top-20 time- but he struggled in the slalom ruts; he should have had a top-5 finish, but his downhill is coming along so nicely.
"And I'm proud of Steven, eighth in the downhill and hanging tough as things fell apart in slalom. Good for him."
The men's schedule returns to Val d'Isere, France, next weekend with a downhill Saturday and another super combined Sunday. Both races were picked up from Chamonix because of poor snow.[pagebreak]
ALPINE MEN'S WORLD CUP
77th Lauberhorn Weekend
Wengen, SUI - Jan. 14, 2007
Men's Super Combined (DH/1-run SL)
1. Mario Matt, Austria, (34/1) 2:27.87
2. Marc Berthod, Switzerland, (15/4) 2:28.25.
3. Silvan Zurbriggen, Switzerland, 14/5) 2:28.28
4. Ivica Kostelic, Croatia, (28/2) 2:28.48
5. Daniel Albrecht, Switzerland, (21/6) 2:28.71
10. Ted Ligety, Park City, UT, (17T/11) 2:29.08
24. Steven Nyman, Provo, UT (8/30) 2:30.67
Bode Miller, Bretton Woods, NH; Jimmy Cochran, Keene, NH; T.J. Lanning, Park City, UT-
Did not start 2nd run:
JJ Johnson, Park City, UT