March 14, 2007
LENZERHEIDE, SWITZERLAND - (USST News Bureau Release) - Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) was a surprise fourth-place finisher in a crash-marred downhill Wednesday at World Cup Finals as the top six skiers were just one-tenth of a second apart. Bode Miller (Bretton Woods, NH) was ninth in the race won by DH world champion Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway.
Svindal closed ground on World Cup overall leader Benjamin Raich of Austria as he won with a time of 1:18.97 over the 2.55K Beltrametti speed run. Swiss Daniel Albrecht was second in 1:19.02, Austrian Christoph Gruber third (1:19.04) and Ligety fourth in 1:19.06 while Didier Cuche of Switzerland, who was crowned World Cup downhill champion last weekend in Norway, tied with Austrian great Hermann Maier for fifth place (1:19.07).
Miller's time was 1:19.46 and Steven Nyman (Provo, UT) finished 15th in 1:19.86 on a sunny day with temperatures in the mid-30s.
Svindal earned 100 points for winning and got an extra boost when Raich finished 13th, giving him just 18 points. With three races remaining, but two of them tech events where Raich is a standout, Raich has 1,075 points to 1,052 for Svindal. Cuche is third (1,008) Miller, the 2005 overall champion, is fourth overall with 772.
"It went pretty well," Ligety said. "It's a turner's downhill course, so that bodes well for me. But it's also one of the most challenging downhill courses I've skied."
DH Head Coach Chris Brigham agreed. "It's a good course for Ted. We started from the women's start, which was our super G start two years ago when Bode and 'D' (Daron Rahlves) tied for the super G win. It turns all the way down, which plays to Ted's technical strengths."
The downhill also served as a nice warmup for Miller, who looks to hold onto his super G points lead. With only Thursday's SG remaining, he has 254 points with Canadian John Kucera second at 178 and Austrian Mario Scheiber No. 3 at 170.
"He skied well and this should have been a good help for Bode. He's doing well and tomorrow should be quite a race," Brigham said.
There were two crashes, which caused long course holds. Swiss Bruno Kernen, running No. 17, went down and was helicoptered off the montain; Svindal skied 19th and took the lead and Pierre-Emmanuel Dalcin of France, No. 20, crashed, causing another long hold - this one with Nyman in the start gate. Dalcin also was choppered off the hill; there was no immediate word on either injury but officials said they were not life-threatening.
The men ski first again Thursday for their super G. Brigham said that also should help Miller "because the course is hard and fast early on; it gets extremely warm in the afternoons - +11 C. (about 51 F.) yesterday - but they've done a really good job of preparing the course."