December 2, 2007
BEAVER CREEK, Colo. (USST Press Release)—Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) took over the World Cup giant slalom points lead Sunday as he narrowly missed another podium, finishing fourth. Erik Schlopy (also Park City) was 21st in the Rauch Men’s GS at the Charles Schwab Birds of Prey races, scoring his first points of the young season.
One day after a snowstorm forced a two-day postponement of the super G, Switzerland’s Daniel Albrecht duplicated his victory in Thursday’s super combined. He finished two GS runs in 2:24.30, five-hundredths ahead of Austrian Mario Matt, the slalom world champion.
Ligety, fifth in the first run, finished in 2:24.45, four-hundredths off the podium. Schlopy’s total time was 2:25.54. No other American reached the second run on the sunny day with temperatures in the mid-20s.
Ligety took over the discipline lead from Norwegian star Aksel Lund Svindal, the defending World Cup overall champion and GS world champion. One of Ligety’s good friends, he was injured Tuesday in a downhill training crash.
“I’m super psyched to get the red bib,” Ligety said, “but I’d have rather taken it off Aksel’s back than get it this way.”
The heavy snow Saturday made conditions inconsistent, he added. “It wasn’t soft but it was inconsistent. Beaver Creek did a really great job preparing the hill so we could race.”
The course-set for each run was straighter than he would have preferred, so he focused on making sure he kept his balance and kept skiing forward.
“They were two ripper courses,” Ligety said. “I concentrated on staying in balance. Both men’s courses were straight and that’s not my specialty. I would’ve liked more turns…but that’s what we got, so I dealt with it.”
Men’s Head Coach Phil McNichol said the course prep was a key to the tight race. “The conditions were quite good with as much snow as we’ve gotten. Yesterday, they had to have more than a foot, maybe two, but these guys know how to take care of a course. Beaver Creek did another outstanding job clearing it away.”
Coach: “You had to be precise…”
“These were two of the tightest giant slaloms I’ve seen, and that made it challenging. The courses were quick – and things were close. You had to be very precise in your skiing and had within 1.8 (seconds of the leader) to make that second run.
“I didn’t think Ted quite got into the rhythm on that second run, but he finds a way to get down the hill pretty fast and it was a great performance from Erik,” the coach said. “He’s coming back from that knee injury last year and he’s only had a few full-course GS runs.”
Bode Miller, who won the Birds of Prey GS two years ago, had a strong first run until he nearly went down and had to hike up to a gate.
The men return to action Monday for the A1 Men’s Super G, which was pushed back two days by Saturday’s snowfall. In super G, racers go down a high-speed course but, unlike downhill, don’t get to train on the hill.