December 2, 2006
BEAVER CREEK CO - (USST News Bureau Release) - Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) hammered his injured right hand on a gate at the bottom of the course Saturday, but gamely held on to grab his first podium of the season, finishing third behind Italy's Max Blardone in a World Cup giant slalom where the top three skiers were just seven-hundredths of a second apart.
On the third day of the VISA Birds of Prey races, Blardone won the Sirius Satellite Radio Men's GS in 2:27.88 with Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal - who won the super combined Thursday - second in 2:27.92. Ligety, fifth in the first run, powered his way to the fifth World Cup podium of his career with a time of 2:27.95.
"The first run I was holding back a bit," Ligety said, "because the snow was a little grippy and I was apprehensive about it." But he let go of the leash in second run.
First-run leader Bode Miller (Bretton Woods, NH) was three-tenths of a second ahead early in his final run but a mistake cost him and he finished 12th. Jimmy Cochran (Keene, NH) was 27th after finishing 28th in the super combined.
Ligety: "Breaking my hand was good..."
Ligety, who broke his right index finger while training in Pitztal, Austria, in October, said he whacked a GS gate as he came into the final pitch. He was to have it examined Saturday night but said he didn't expect any problem with racing Sunday in the Rauch Men's Slalom that concludes the Birds of Prey race.
"I think breaking my hand was good for my GS," he said, explaining how it forced him to focus more on keeping his balance while skiing.
Miller - who had said despite leading the first run, "It was a struggle from top to bottom, I just couldn't find the rhythm," he said.
Head Coach Phil McNichol said he had mixed emotions about the race when it seemed like Miller might have nailed his second win in two days after capturing the VISA Men's Downhill Friday. "But, y'know, we'll take a podium any time...and Bode's clearly skiing well in GS, so these things happen. There will be other days for him in GS."
Did gate-smack cost a win?
McNichol added, "I thought Warner (Nickerson - Gilford, NH) and Jake (Zamansky - Aspen, CO) had outstanding runs going until they went out, but they were on it. Their time'll come, too.
"But Ted has become so solid, even with the bad finger, and he hung in there despite the pain at the end. No hack on that finger and he might've won it...just seven-hundredths out. He put on quite a show," the coach said.
The VISA races conclude Sunday with the Rauch Men's Slalom and then the men's tour heads to Reiteralm, Austria, as racing resumes in snow-starved Europe on Dec. 10. The Austrian venue will pickup the super combined race - this time a super G (instead of DH) and slalom - originally scheduled for Val d'Isere, France.
For complete results, click here.