Course set swings U.S. skiers off path
BEAVER CREEK, Colorado The Birds of Prey race course can be tamed.But sometimes, the pitch on Beaver Creek just bides its time and strikes when its least expected.In Mondays World Cup super-G at Beaver Creek, the Americans fell victim to a tough course set, with three skiers failing to finish and another losing a large chunks of time. Bode Miller lost an edge after hitting what he said was a rock on the first gate course, but managed to finish and take 30th.Ted Ligety, meanwhile, took advantage of a technical course set to place 23rd, his best World Cup super-G finish.I havent raced in that many, Ligety said. I (got) my first World Cup points (in super-G), too, which is good and Ill have World Cup points in every event so thats pretty cool. Its a really technical super-G which plays to my liking a lot. The top pitch was good, through in the flat I lost some time here and there, but otherwise, I am pretty happy with it.Ligety survived the section that spun Steven Nyman and Andrew Weibrecht off course for DNFs and threw Scott Macartney out of the points. The trouble area came right after the Golden Eagle jump. Nyman, who was the second American to run, following Miller, started out slow, but picked up time in the middle section. But after Nyman came out of the Abyss, he got too low before a gate and couldnt recover.It was a little miscalculation, Nyman said. You come out of the abyss and you are supposed to come up and under it and try and get on the blue line, but its more a quick switch deal. We got on the blue line and all of a sudden we are by the gate. It just cranks right after that and we were way too late. Its kind of a little miscalculation I guess or a communication error. Up top was all right.Only two skiers later, Macartney came down without a course report from Nyman, who wasnt in the finish corral yet. Macartney was running fast through the middle section and had the 15th-best time at the third interval, but went to low on the same gate as Nyman and had to dig into some fresh snow to get back on track.Its a pretty tough course, Macartney said. The top was OK, and then theres a lot of places it catches up to you if you run it too straight or you arent exactly on line. I just didnt move quick enough coming into a section. The rhythm was a little bit strange and I was way out in the powder. If you were just a little off line, its pretty much over.The area in question gave plenty of racers trouble for good reason.You cant see the next gate, so you have you really anticipate where you start the turn, and I came off and didnt get it on soon enough and once you go over the hump, it rolls away from you, so you either nail it or youre way off in the middle of nowhere, Macartney said. I thought that was going to be difficult, but its the kind of thing you dont know how much speed you have, and sometimes those run really easy. With that one, if you are not perfect in your timing, its really tough.
Weibrecht, who had an amazing downhill run on Friday, cracking into the top 10 for the first time in his career, went out of course just a bit above the Abyss.I was definitely going for it. It was pretty bumpy so it was tough. I was off line a bit, he said. It was similar to what I did in the downhill I just got squashed in the compression. I didnt anticipate the roll very well.T.J. Lanning, who had his first career top 10 earlier in the week, went off course up high.It was speedy and bumpy, and I wasnt exactly in the spot I wanted to be, he said.Miller, who once navigated the majority of a downhill course on one ski, had to improvise on his run Monday when he lost the inside edge of his right ski and nicked the tail of the other ski.On the first gate there was some of that windblown stuff … and theres these little pebbles in there. I just folded the (ski) edge over, the front half of the ski, completely folded. Theres nothing there. I almost stopped up by Pumphouse, but the tail worked on the other ski … I just sat back and tried to just hang on.Even with the ski problems, Miller only finished 1.40 seconds behind the winner, Austrias Hannes Reichelt and had the fastest final split.This was my first run on these skis, Miller said. They would have been fine in a course, but I hit a rock. Thats bad luck, but at the same time, coming in on a course on a pair of skis youve never run before is not a good way to do (it) in a World Cup. But in (Sundays) giant slalom I had never run these boots before in giant slalom.The men now head off to Europe, starting with a pair of technical races in Bad Kleinkirchheim, Austria, next week and then head to Val Gardena, Italy, for speed events.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
With his finish in the super-G, Ligety tacked on 8 points to move up to 170 on the season and seventh place in the overall. Thursday, Ligety took eighth in the super-combined and fourth in Sundays giant slalom.Im pretty happy with this week, Ligety said. I would have liked the giant slalom to go a little better, but thats what happens. Fourth isnt bad. In super-combined, the slalom was a really good run. This year, I have much higher expectations because the way Ive been training and skiing in races.Miller, after taking fourth in the super-combined, sixth in the downhill and 30th in the super-G, is tied for ninth in the overall with 158. And even though miller didnt finish his giant slalom run, he leaves Beaver Creek feeling good in all disciplines.Im happy with the way I skied (in the giant slalom), Im happy that I skied in the downhill, for myself anyway, I showed that I have the speed to win any of these races, he said. The slalom, I didnt show in the race, but the day before we made a huge breakthrough. So for me its really encouraging to come out of here knowing I can win in all four events right now. In giant slalom and super-G and downhill I have a significant amount more speed than the other guys are capable of now, so those are good things. I just need to get to the finish clean.The men now head off to Europe, starting with a pair of technical races in Bad Kleinkirchheim, Austria, next week and then head to Val Gardena, Italy, for speed events.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or email@example.com.