Giant slalom time, aka Ted Day
December 1, 2012
BEAVER CREEK – It’s Teddy Day, aka the Birds of Prey giant slalom.
Yes, there are a good 60-other guys racing today, but we’re Americans and so all eyes just happen to be on Ted Ligety with GS runs at 9:45 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.
No pressure there, Ted. You just have about 160 seconds today during the course of a 366-day calendar year – we leapt in 2012 – to win on home snow.
The crazy thing is that Ligety can still do this, despite all this pressure, and the fact that there are tons of great racers ready to get in his way.
On another thread, GS may be the best single discipline of alpine skiing to determine the best overall skier on a given day. Short of holding a combined event, GS takes the technical skills of slalom with some of the speed of super-G or a downhill.
Or to paraphrase Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal from Saturday on Ligety’s chances of winning the overall, “if you ski GS well, you’re skiing well.”
Here’s the data on today’s GS:
Format: 69 racers will start in the first run. The top-30 finishers advance to the second run. The top 30 will be flipped so that fastest guy in the first run goes last in the second run. A racer must finish both runs to earn points. Just making the flip doesn’t do it.
Weather: Bring your golf clubs. The forecast high is 47 degrees. We still can’t get over this weather.
Birds of Prey past champions: Hermann Maier (1999), Lasse Kjus (2004 and 1999 Worlds in Vail), Bode Miller (2005), Massilmiliano Blardone (2006), Daniel Albrecht (2007), Benni Raich (2008), Carlo Janka (2009), Ted Ligety (2010 and 2011) and Marcel Hirscher (2011)
GS stats: Racers drop 1,407 feet from a starting elevation of 10,351. The course is nearly a mile long at 4,806 feet.
Intervals: Golden Eagle and The Abyss.
Look out for: The winner will have to carry speed from the top. It’s not a long course, especially by comparison to the speed races of the last two days, but athletes are short on oxygen at this altitude (8,900 feet at the finish). That makes the final gates lung-busters.
Americans (bib number): Ligety (1), Tim Jitloff (26), Tommy Ford (29), Robby Kelley (46), Brennan Rubie (60) and Thomas Biesemeyer (61).
Favorites: Well, that would be Ted. Austria’s Hirscher (3) won the GS and men’s overall globes last year, so he’s Ligety’s main rival. Blardone (5), a winner here in 2006, is in the mix as is France’s Alexis Pinturault (4) and Austria’s Hannes Reichelt (7), who seems to like Beaver Creek a lot.
Darkhorses: How about Austria’s Philipp Schoerghofer (2)? Italy’s Manfred Moelgg (11) was second in the season-opening GS in Soelden, Austria. Keep an eye on Germany’s Fritz Dopfer (10), and France’s Cyprien Richard (13). Also, don’t count out Norway’s dynamic duo of Svindal (12) and Kjetil Jansrud (14). They both have been sizzling this week.
Staff picks (as always, no wagering): OK, the Vail Daily’s Lauren Glendinning looked good with Svindal in second place in Saturday’s super-G … especially by comparison. The Vail Daily’s Chris Freud went with Andrew Weibrecht (DNF), while Associated Press Denver’s Pat Graham tabbed Max Franz (DNF).
Glendenning and Graham go with Ligety, while Freud goes with Hirscher to jinx the Austrian.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.