Ted Ligety is top American in super-G | VailDaily.com

Ted Ligety is top American in super-G

Melanie Wong
mwong@vaildaily.com

BEAVER CREEK — American Ted Ligety needed just a tenth-of-a second lead, or maybe 20 pounds more of bulk.

Ligety skied a nearly perfect super-G run, then watched anxiously as several surprise contenders and heftier speedsters bumped him down in the rankings as the day went on. When the race was over at the Birds of Prey Men's World Cup, Ligety was narrowly nudged off the podium by a couple tenths of a second. He landed fifth in the super-G, with a time of 1 minute, 22.21 seconds, the top American result of the day.

"You can't win them all, obviously," Ligety conceded, clearly disappointed.

The Utah native sped through the first two time checks ahead of the pack, acing the twistier portions of the course that suited his technical strengths. However, he fell behind on the bottom, straighter part of the course where his slighter build wasn't on his side. However, it was a strong run for the American on a day sprinkled with fluffy snow and complicated by low-light conditions. Even crowd favorite and Friday's downhill winner Aksel Lund Svindal didn't best Ligety's time.

"It's not an easy hill up there right now, with flat light and snow peeling away from you at spots," said Ligety. "I skied the turns well, which is always my forte. On the flats, when it's snowing and kind of soft, I lose a lot of time. It's not in my skillset, really, to be fast in the flats and soft. That makes it more important I do well on the top."

It was a bit unexpected to see Ligety, normally known more for his technical skiing, excel in the super-G. However, it's a discipline that he said he's been working hard with his coaches on.

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"My super-G has a big range. If it's steep, I'm one of the fastest guys, and if it's flat and easy, I'm one of the middle-of-the-pack guys. It depended on where my skill set falls in there. When it's steep like it is here, at least on the important sections, I have a better chance of making up time on guys. When it's more moderate, guys like Aksel (Svindal) will beat me every time," he said.

Ligety will continue to be a top pick through the weekend in his favorite event, the giant slalom. The next discipline he is looking to improve is slalom.

"My slalom is like fine china. It's really nice and looks pretty sometimes and can be fast, but if you drop it, it breaks easily. Whereas my GS is like an iron skillet. You can kick it around and do anything with it and it holds up. That's been a bit frustrating for me sometimes, but that's how it goes sometimes with ski racing," he said.

Bode's blip

American Bode Miller was the second top American of the day, coming in 14th with a time of 1:22.98. He skied second in the lineup and set a blistering, aggressive line down the mountain. Looking for redemption after a disappointing downhill on Friday, Miller was looking more like the skier who has won at Beaver Creek four times in his career, until the final turn at Harrier surprised him.

"That mistake was just unfortunate, honestly," said Miller, pointing to the Harrier turn that tripped him up. "The gate is actually against the banners there, so when you look at it, it's a red gate against red background, so you just cant see it. I wouldn't make that mistake but one time out of 10 or 20. It sucks to make it on a day where I skied that clean on the top."

Thrills and spills

Andrew Weibrecht was also a standout for the Americans. Wearing bib No. 46 for the day, he finished the super-G in 20th place with a time of 1:23.29. Weibrecht had struggled on Friday and was hampered by a bruised left shin he sustained from a crash at Lake Louise, Alberta, the previous week.

"I felt pretty comfortable, like I was hitting the line," he said. "Coming out of The Abyss, I took a little bit of a wrong line and had to jam around a couple gates just to stay on the course. Overall, I'm really happy with the result. Last week, I couldn't even push on my left shin. Now, it feels good at least to be able to give it 95 percent, instead of 50 percent like before."

Steven Nyman finished 37th, followed by Marco Sullivan in 47th and Erik Fisher in 59th.

The remainder of the American speed team didn't fare so well, succumbing to crashes and missed turns that led to a number of DNFs.

Travis Ganong, who has skied with promise the past few days at Beaver Creek, took a bad direction on a turn that sent him off course. He did not finish the run.

Jared Goldberg took a spectacular crash toward the top of the course, dropping off the fall line, landing on his back and sliding into the netting. Teammate Nick Daniels followed and made the same error, forcing him to bail off the course.

Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 and mwong@vaildaily.com.