As we take a look back, Birds of Prey 2014 starts | VailDaily.com

As we take a look back, Birds of Prey 2014 starts

Ted Ligety races to his fifth win in six giant-slalom starts during last year's Birds of Prey in Beaver Creek.
Justin Q. McCarty | Daily file photo |

Birds of Prey 2014

Tuesday

Downhill training, 11 a.m.

Wednesday

Downhill training, 11 a.m.

Thursday

Downhill training, 11 a.m.

Friday

Downhill, 10:45 a.m.

Saturday

Super-G, 11 a.m.

Sunday

Giant slalom, 9:45 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.

BEAVER CREEK — Past is prologue.

While trying to predict ski racing is somewhat akin to winning the lottery, there are clues in history. Perhaps one can reduce the odds of from winning the aforementioned lottery to being struck by lightning.

With that, a look back at Birds of Prey 2013:

Aksel

Birds of Prey remains Hermann Maier’s fiefdom. The Austrian won seven straight starts in Beaver Creek, a stretch that started with a super-G win during the course’s opening weekend in 1997 through downhill and super-G golds at the 1999 World Alpine Ski Championships to the first weekend World Cup triple later that year.

His eight total wins at Beaver Creek is the record. (Ted Ligety is second with five, all in giant slalom.)

If anyone were to approach the Herminator’s status of legend in the speed disciplines at Birds of Prey, then it’s Norway’s Aksel Lund-Svindal.

Not only has he won four times here, including last year’s downhill, but he really has found a dramatic touch. In 2006, he snatched the super-combined from Bode Miller, or perhaps, Bode gave it to Svindal. (Miller had a 2-second lead as the last racer, going into the slalom, and skied off course.)

Svindal’s season ended abruptly here in 2007 with an ill-fated trip off Golden Eagle during training. All he did upon his return in 2008 was win downhill and super-G on back-to-back days.

That started a string of 18 top-10 finishes in 19 starts — he missed the flip in a 2011 slalom — that established him as one of the best at Birds of Prey.

Svindal topped Austria’s Hannes Reichelt by 17-hundredths of a second in last year’s downhill, with Italy’s Peter Fill third, for his fourth win at Beaver Creek and the 23rd World Cup win at the time.

Unfortunately, Svindal tore his Achilles before this season began. However, a look at the podium tells us that familiarity with the hill is key in a Birds of Prey downhill.

Svindal, Reichelt and Fill are all circuit regulars. Not a coincidence.

By the way, some guy named Patrick Kueng, of Switzerland, finished fifth. Nobody cared at the time.

Who?

The first rule of a Birds of Prey super-G is that no one has a clue who’s going to win. Keung picked up the first World Cup win of his career during last year’s super-G. He’s not the first.

Bjarne Solbakken (2003), Stefan Goergl (2004), Reichelt (2005), Sandro Viletta (2011) and Matteo Marsaglia (2012) all won their first races here in super-G. For some, it’s their lone shining moment. Solbakken never won again.

It launched Reichelt’s career. While it’s still early for a guy like Keung, he’s likely more on the Reichelt track. Keung picked up win No. 2 in the Wengen downhill, which if you’re Swiss makes you a god on home snow.

Austria’s Otmer Striedinger, then 22, took second. He had never finished higher than 17th in a World Cup event to that point. Fill and Reichelt tied for third.

Teddy and Bode

Giant slalom Sunday is known as Ted Day, and Ted Ligety didn’t disappoint. Ligety put on a clinic last year, leading by 1.26 seconds after the first run. That was pretty much that.

The big shock was that Miller popped into second out of the No. 31 bib, providing more magic at Birds of Prey. Miller is out of this year’s Birds of Prey, but is hoping to return for Worlds in February. Never, ever count Bode out.

Austria’s Marcel Hirscher finished third, and everyone always seems to forget about him at Beaver Creek because the GS has been “The Ted Show” with Ligety winning five of his last sixth starts here in the discipline. The last guy not named Ligety to win the Birds of Prey GS is, in fact, Hirscher. He won in 2011 in the first of two GS races held within 48 hours here. Ligety won two days later in a race moved from France because of a lack of snow.

Hircher and Ligety ended up sharing the GS title last season, though Hirscher took home the overall globe.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, cfreud@vaildaily.com and @cfreud.