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December 10, 2011
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Here's the lowdown on Thursday's slalom

BEAVER CREEK, Colorado - And now for something completely different.

Welcome to the final day of Birds of Prey and a slalom at 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

Yes, we did say slalom. It's the first at Birds of Prey since 2006, when our podium was Andre Myhrer, of Sweden, Canada's Michael Janyk and Felix Neureuther, of Germany.

We're totally sure you remembered that. And, by the by, Myhrer starts No. 1 Thursday.

You'll see some athletes with whom you are familiar, and then we'll get some specialists. Slalom is its own animal and also quite hypnotic - in a good way.

This is also the first men's slalom of the year, as the traditional opener in Levi, Finland, was scrubbed. (Imagine that - events canceled and run somewhere else.)

Here's the lowdown:

• Weather: Should be nice. Weather.com says 30 degrees and sunny. We're all grateful for that after the bitter temperatures earlier this week.

• Past Birds of Prey champs: Didier Plaschy (1999), Benjamin Raich (2004), Giorgio Rocca (2005) and Myhrer (2006). Kalle Palander, of Finland, won slalom at the 1999 World Alpine Ski Championships when the discipline was contested at Vail.

• Slalom stats: The course starts at 9,626 feet, dropping 685 feet to an elevation of 8,944. The course is 2,174 feet long.

• Number of racers: 59 - the top 30 make the flip at 12:30 p.m.

• Downhill interval: The Abyss.

• Look out in slalom: Everywhere. It's a slalom. But The Abyss is always the reaper here. Speed on the flats is a definite concern, including the finishing stretch.

• Americans (bib number): Ted Ligety (18), Jimmy Cochran (30), Bode Miller (32), David Chodounsky (35), Will Brandenburg (36) and Colby Granstrom (38).

• Favorites: Croatia's Ivica Kostelic (5) is the World Cup champion. Nos. 2 through 4? That would be France's Jean-Baptiste Grange (2), Myhrer (1) and Mario Matt (3). Austria's Marcel Hirscher (7) also should be in this category because he won Sunday's giant slalom and finished second in Tuesday's GS. Honestly, you never know with the slalom.

• Dark horses: We're always rooting for Ligety because he needs to improve his slalom if he hopes to contend for the overall. Raich (16) is always in the mix here. Italy's Manfred Moelgg (4) is also a savvy veteran.

• Staff picks: By the way, we're both pretty proud that we got Lindsey Vonn in Wednesday's super-G. You can see through that pick that we know our skiing.

Freud: Kostelic.

Lauren Glendenning: Grange.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.


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The VailDaily Updated Dec 10, 2011 03:57PM Published Dec 10, 2011 03:57PM Copyright 2011 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.