March 17, 2006
ARE, Sweden - (News Release) - Daron Rahlves (Sugar Bowl, CA) took his final World Cup runs Friday and finished sixth while Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) seventh in giant slalom at World Cup Finals. New overall and Olympic giant slalom champion Benjamin Raich of Austria had the fastest second run to win, clinching his second straight World Cup GS title, too.
Raich, who has seven World Cup wins for the season (and 23 in his career) plus the Olympic slalom and GS gold medals, won in 2:22.50, surging while first-run leader Massimiliano Blardone of Italy faltered on his final run, dropping nearly a full second off the pace. Blardone, who held a seventh-hundredths lead going into the second run, finished in 2:23.44; he also finished second behind Raich in the GS standings for the season.
Going into the final race, Raich has an untouchable 1,410 points while Bode Miller (Bretton Woods, NH) - with two top-3s this week - is third overall at 928 with Rahlves fourth at 903. Ligety, in his second full World Cup season, is ninth with 636 and if the standings hold, it will be the first time three U.S. men have finished in the World Cup top 10 overall standings.
In what's expected to have been his final World Cup race, Rahlves had a two-run time of 2:24.25 while Ligety, the Olympic combined gold medalist, moved up three places with a total time of 2:24.68 in the cloudy, 30-degree weather.
"Last World Cup race for Daron and it was a good one. No big mistakes," said men's SL/GS Head Coach Mike Morin, "and he skied a couple of the tough sections as well as the best guys, but then he gave away a little time elsewhere with a couple of small mistakes.
"This is a deceptively tough course," he said, "and Daron's become such a good GS skier again, and it's tough to think of him leaving, but he finishes with a good performance...
"And Ted, in case nobody has been paying attention this winter, showed everyone again he's no longer just a slalom skier. He's just so solid in GS and combined, too...and Ted Ligety's for real. He probably under-estimated how aggressive he had to be in the first run but then he really pushed it in the second run."
Morin added, "It's a little disappointing - it would have been sweet to see 'D' go out with a podium, but any time you have a top-10 on the World Cup, with things being as competitive and as tight are they are now, it's a good race...and today we had two top-10s."
Bode Miller (Bretton Woods, NH), who was showing a post-Olympic resurgence with a second in downhill Wednesday and victory Thursday in super G, had a blazing first run until he caught an arm in a GS panel as he looked to shave more time with a tighter line. "Bode had the fastest time until he got caught right at the second interval," Morin said. "It was the best GS I've seen from him since December. He's really motivated this week."
Racing with a broken hand, which he suffered two weeks ago in South Korea, Erik Schlopy (Park City, UT) went down a hip twice in the first run and eventually missed a gate.
The men run slalom Saturday - the two runs are 3 a.m. ET and 5:30 a.m.; to follow the race through live results, go to livetiming.usskiteam.com. A team event, with each nation providing three men and three women, will conclude the World Cup schedule Sunday and the Americans will return for the TD Banknorth U.S. Alpine Championships March 25-30 at Sugarloaf, Maine.
MEN'S ALPINE WORLD CUP
World Cup Finals
Are, SWE - March 17, 2006
Men's Giant Slalom
1. Benjamin Raich, Austria, 2:22.50
2. Massimiliano Blardone, Italy, 2:23.44
3. Fredrik Nyberg, Sweden, 2:23.52
4. Francois Bourque, Canada, 2:23.79
5. Hannes Reichelt, Austria, 2:24.12
6. Daron Rahlves, Sugar Bowl, Calif., 2:24.25
7. Ted Ligety, Park City, Utah, 2:24.68
Bode Miller, Bretton Woods, N.H.; Erik Schlopy, Park City, Utah
For complete results:http://www.fis-ski.com/uk/604/1228.html?event_id=17080