And that is why we love World Cup ski racing
BEAVER CREEK — Jumping Jehosephats and tarnation, Batman.
Ted Ligety not winning a giant slalom at Birds of Prey on Sunday was possible. As noted in this space, there were 66 other guys in the field who weren’t going to roll over and play dead.
Did anyone see a DNF coming?
Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
We’re not piling on Ted. Save the emails, people. After all, he leaves Beaver Creek with a second-place finish in super-G, a superb result.
Stuff happens. The course was icier than anticipated and he caught an edge.
The bigger theme is that this is the drama of the World Cup. Absolutely anything can happen, and it pretty much did this weekend here at Birds of Prey.
We had the comeback with Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal winning downhill. We had the bizarre with Austria’s Marcel Hirscher capturing a super-G. And we had the upset with Hirscher in Sunday’s GS.
Throw in Andrew Weibrecht’s performances and Lindsey What’s-her-name and that Shiffrin kid and this was a great weekend of racing.
Hirscher leaves as the weekend’s winner. The 100-point swing with Ligety in the GS is nice for him, yet not crucial in his chase for his fifth World Cup overall. (Ligety is not a rival in World Cup championship chase.) After a third-place finish in the Soelden, Austria, GS, just winning on Sunday in a technical race was important.
What makes Hirscher the big winner was that he snagged the super-G win.
Any points Hirscher gets outside of the GS and slalom discipline is gravy. A hundred points from a super-G? That’s big time. To put that into perspective, Hirscher scored only 64 points in super-G all last season.
Now consider that the men’s World Cup leaves here having done four speed races and two GS races — no slaloms yet — and Hirscher is in great shape.
The one thing on which we have to call Hirscher on is his media talk. He told me that finishing in the top five in GS was his goal for the weekend.
Marcel, I don’t know if anyone had called you dude before — but dude, you’re full of it.
Hirscher’s “worst” worst finish in GS last year was fourth, so top-five was your goal? Really? You aren’t fooling anyone, Marcel.
Yes, I was one of many reporters who asked Weibrecht about how he has two Olympic medals and no World Cup podiums in his career before the weekend.
This is your quote of the week:
“It feels like all the people who ask me that are people who don’t have two Olympic medals,” he said.
I went home and looked, and he’s right. I couldn’t find any medals — lots of San Francisco Giants gear, but no medals.
Weibrecht put an end to that question forever with third in Saturday’s super-G and he’s a happy camper. Good for him. Combine that with fifth in the downhill, and I’ll bet we look at these races as a turning point.
Know when to hold them
About the only thing that stopped Svindal this weekend was a stomach bug. He was ill for Saturday’s super-G and withdrew from Sunday’s GS.
The Norwegian is clearly back from his injury, yet what makes him even more dangerous is his experience.
He held back in training, and put together a game plan to beat his teammate Kjetil Jansrud on downhill day. Having run here so many times, he knew what he needed to do and crushed it on Friday.
I would not want to play poker with Aksel. He’s a cool customer.
This is just getting silly with Lindsey Vonn at Lake Louise, Alberta. As the Associated Press’ Pat Graham wrote after Vonn won on Saturday in Canada, “This is getting repetitive.”
This the third time in her career that Vonn has swept both downhills and the super-G in one weekend on the Canadian course. Vonn now has 18 wins alone on that hill. When I write, “Eighteen wins is a good career for most” I’m not kidding. Ligety has 25 career World Cup wins. Vonn has 18 alone at Lake Louise.
It’s official — Lindsey’s coming for Ingemar Stenmark’s all-time record of 86 World Cup wins. Vonn, already the women’s leader in that category, is sitting on 70. Knock wood, she’ll get it within two seasons.
This will likely be one of the few times ever we congratulate Mikaela Shiffrin on finish 15th in a World Cup race, but, great job, kid.
In her World Cup super-G debut, Shiffrin was 15th, and that’s spectacular. This was called a “get your feet wet” race and she earned World Cup points. As she gets more comfortable with it, she let her skis go more. Just watching on television, she was understandably hesitant. She might just make a career out of this skiing thing yet.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, email@example.com and @cfreud.