SESTRIERE, Italy Dec. 16, 2002--Chip Knight (Stowe, VT) took advantage of a "lucky loser" wild card Monday night and parlayed it into the best World Cup finish of his career, finishing sixth under the lights in the first men's "knockout" slalom.
Ivica Kostelic of Croatia won by one-hundredth of a second over Italy's Giorgio Rocca while Tom Rothrock (Cashmere, WA), the only other American to reach the second round, was 24th. Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) was a DNF in the afternoon's qualifying run and Erik Schlopy (Park City, UT), who has battled back pains for several days, skipped the race, the second slalom of the season.
Under the new-this-season format, skiers have a qualifying run and the 30 fastest skiers advance to the first of three "knockout" rounds of quasi head-to-head racing. No. 1 fastest goes against the 30th fastest in the quarterfinals round; No. 2 takes a run and his time is matched against No. 29, and so on. The 15 winners of those pairing plus the three "lucky losers" with the fastest time among the 15 losers then compete in nine duels; Knight, who qualified 28th, was a lucky loser, despite losing to Austrian Manfred Pranger, after posting the second-fastest time on his run.
Given a second chance, Knight was faster than Slovenian Ales Gorza in the semifinals, gaining a place as one of the nine finalists...and his time of 34.89 was sixth fastest. Kostelic, the defending World Cup slalom champ, finished his final run in 34.32 with Rocca in 34.33.
"Chip skied well...and Tom did, too; he picked it up on the bottom but it was too late. And Bode made a bobble or two at the top, then tried to turn it on too much at the bottom and went out. It was interesting, though, because the three 'lucky losers' all made it to the final round of nine," said U.S. SL/GS Head Coach Martin Andersen.
The men's next race is in Val Gardena, Italy, with a downhill Friday and super G Saturday, then GS Sunday in Alta Badia.
FIS ALPINE WORLD CUP
Sestriere, ITA - Dec. 16
"Knockout" Slalom (9 made final run)
1. Ivica Kostelic, Croatia, 34.32
2. Giorgio Rocca, Italy, 34.33
3. Trule Ove Karlsen, Norway, 34.57
4. Hans-Petter Buraas, Norway, 34.69
5. Jean-Pierre Vidal, France, 34.72
6. Chip Knight, Stowe, VT, 34.89
24. Tom Rothrock, Cashmere, WA
DNF-1: Bode Miller, Franconia, NH
World Cup Standings (10 races)
1. Stephan Eberharter, Austria, 548 points
2. Kjetil Andre Aamodt, Norway, 306
3. Didier Cuche, Switzerland, 286
4. Miller, 281
5. Michael Von Gurenigen, Switzerland, 260
32T. Daron Rahlves, Sugar Bowl, CA, 77
34T. Knight, 76
41T. Erik Schlopy, Park City, UT, and Marco Sullivan, Squaw Valley, CA, 58 each
65T. Thomas Vonn, Newburgh, NY, 24
74T. Jake Fiala, Frisco, CO, 18
77. Rothrock, 17
72. Dane Spencer, Boise, ID, 9