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December 17, 2006
ALTA BADIA, ITALY – (USST News Bureau Release) – Kalle Palander of Finland took the first-run lead Sunday in a World Cup giant slalom and held off fast-closing Bode Miller (Bretton Woods, NH) for the 13th win of his career. Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) moved up 12 places with a sizzling second run to finish seventh on a day of bizarre weather conditions.
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Palander, who held a .32 seconds lead after the first run – with Miller in seventh place, finished with a two-run time of 2:28.92. Miller, bidding for his third World Cup win of the season and the 24th of his career, finished in 2:29.33 while Ligety, 19th in the first run, had the third-fastest second run in the flat light and had a final time of 2:29.87.
Equipment adjustments pays off
Miller said making continual adjustments to his new-this-season Head skis in the last two weeks have helped improve his feel and results. “We changed the tuning a little bit; the last five days of training have been great. I’ve been faster than anybody. I feel good; it’s been a matter of how the conditions are.
“They’re a whole bunch better than at the beginning of the season. These skis are a million times better. I had a lot of speed,” the former giant slalom World Cup and world champion told reporters in the finish.
The key, in addition to the faster skis, Miller said, “is making it down without any big mistakes.”
At a press conference, he said overnight snow and rain totally changed conditions from when he arrived from Val Gardena and free-skied the course Saturday afternoon as the sun was going down. “I thought we’d have absolutely perfect conditions but the snow insulated it” and attempts to inject water into the surface, to harden conditions, went nowhere.
He couldn’t believe he was 1.7 seconds behind Palander in the first run – “I had no mistakes, no bobbles,” Miller said, noting he’s crashed at the bottom the last two years after winning here in December 2003 and finishing fourth in ’04. He was a little less aggressive than normal on his first run, he said, but being so far back he “took a little different line, took a little more risk” on his second run and vaulted five places to second.
“When I got to the finish for the second run, I was really happy,” he said. “I was 1.7 seconds out but couldn’t have skied much better. It’s really hard for me to put two runs on this hill without any big mistakes.”
Ligety: “I had to give it everything…”
Ligety said he had nothing to lose in the final run and went for broke. “There’s no point getting 19th, or whatever I was in the first run. I was a little ashamed in that run and I knew I had to bring a second run. It worked out pretty well,” he said. “Up top I was charging hard…”
“I had to go hard if I wanted to get a top 10, which I wanted. I knew I had to put down a lot of time (create a gap); there was nothing I could leave, I had to give it everything,” he said.
SL/GS Head Coach Mike Morin said, “We did better in that second run after the day started as a kick in the teeth. Two boys in the top 10 is a big comeback from a very strange first run. The times were all over the place and the snow changed dramatically from inspection to the first race run; conditions were totally different than what they inspected when some warm air came in, so the plan from inspection didn’t work for quite a few guys. They set-up for hard ice and their (equipment) setups were totally off. It’s a surface we haven’t raced on at all.
“The morning inspection was what we inspected but by the race we got gooey, buttery, hard snow. It was so hard to put together two good runs today, and, really, only one did it – and great show by Kalle…and by Bode and Ted, too,” Morin said.
The men run slalom Monday in Alta badia, then head to Hinterstoder, Austria, for a super G Wednesday annd another GS Thursday before the Christmas break.
For complete results: http://www.fis-ski.com/uk/604/1228.html?cal_suchsector=AL&event_id=21889.