Christianson, 27, makes first start
BEAVER CREEK – The cruelest number in ski racing is 31.
For the Americans, Ted Ligety was Ted in second. Bode Miller had an off day, which is no big deal in the greater scheme of things for him, and Tommy Ford made the flip for the Americans. But there was compelling theater as the first run of Sunday’s Birds of Prey giant slalom came to a close.
Ski and Snowboard Club Vail’s Charles Christianson was making his first career World Cup start for the U.S. Ski Team at the age of 27, and he nearly pulled off a Cinderella story of epic proportions.
After years of bouncing around university, Nor-Am, FIS and Euro Cup races, Christianson nearly made the flip. Skiing 58th out of 63 racers, he came within 18-hundredths of making the flip for Sunday’s second run.
‘I think I gave it up a little down here. It’s a really fast course,” Christianson said. “It’s hard to know how fast you’re going. You just have to give it full gas the whole way down. Whenever I was down, I just tried to dive deeper into the turn. I was hoping it worked out.”
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As Christianson crossed the line, the scoreboard flashed the bitter news – 31. One spot out.
Christianson got to the end of the finish corral, sank to his knees and then sat with his back to the padding for a bit.
“I mean it’s my whole goal. It’s my life goal for my life,” he said. “It’s bittersweet. I’d like to thank the team for giving me a chance to race here. I’m older than most people racing their first race, but I’m glad I was able to show them something.”
Christianson was out there for inspection, but when you’re a journeyman you don’t get as much time as you like. He wasn’t able to see a little bump after the Harrier Jump.
“It turns up right there,” Christianson said. “I actually got kicked off inspection. We had a short inspection today. I didn’t get a real good look at it. I got a little back, but it’s the World Cup, a spilt second.”
With the races from Val d’Isere, France, being moved here, there will be another men’s GS Tuesday, and there’s no guarantee that Christianson will get another shot.
“Hope I proved something,” he said.
Ford’s wild ride
Ford did make the flip despite being on his hip at one point during his first run, but he had taken so much speed at the top that he was able to skid into 25th and get and afternoon run. He was much cleaner the second time through, finishing 22nd.
Just 22-years-old, Ford is looking for World Cup points and improving his start position, so Sunday was a good day.
“It all right,” Ford said. “It felt like I skied pretty good. It felt like I skied a little safe here and there, but I definitely skied well all day. I was thinking about skiing well and getting down. … Any World Cup points get me better start positions.”
Miller never seemed right from the start he had trouble with the third and fourth gates and kept losing speed from there, and wasn’t close to a second run. He’s already getting ready for Tuesday’s GS
“Hopefully I’ll be able to go over and get a run or two today on this grippy snow on my other set up and be prepared for Tuesday cause it’s going to be the exact same,” Miller said. “And you know my speed’s been great for GS, just missed the setup today.”
SSCV’s Will Gregorak went out early, while Tim Jitloff had troubles on Red Tail and skied to 38th. Thomas Biesemeyer was also a DNF for the Americans.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.