Ligety finds a familiar place " fourth
BEAVER CREEK, Colorado ” One can blink aneye in half-a-second.
American Ted Ligety lost out on a place on the Birds of Prey giant-slalom podium Sunday, or even a win, by a whole lot less than that.
Ligety’s two-run time was 2 minutes, 24.45 seconds, tying for fourth place with Italy’s Massimiliano Blardone. The American was just 15-hundredths of a second behind Switzerland’s Daniel Albrecht, who picked up his second win of the week, and a mere 4-hundredths short of Didier Cuche in third place.
“I wasn’t all that satisfied with either run,” the Olympic combined champion said. “It’s a straight course. That’s really not my specialty at all. I guess I’m kind of happy with fourth place, whatever. I got I-don’t-know-how-many fourth places last year. It’s not that fun. It’s tough being 15-hundredths off the lead.”
For the record, Ligety had three fourth-place finishes last year. He also had a second at Alta Badia, Italy, in slalom and a bronze here in GS.
Nevertheless with fourth Sunday, Ligety jumped into first place in the GS standings with 130 points ahead of Albrecht (109).
Ligety said that he would have preferred a more technical course compared to the rather straight set-up of Sunday’s giant slalom. Earlier in the season, he took second in GS in Soelden, Austria, one of the most technical tracks on tour.
Ironically, both Ligety and Cuche had a bobble on the course’s final jump, Red Tail during their second runs. While Ligety beat Cuche by half-a-second on the final run, the small mistake most likely prevented the American from making the podium.
“I just went a little round over the roll and just kind of got launched, not in the right direction, of course,” he said. “It’s a little tough.”
Six weeks ago, Erik Schlopy’s left knee was in such bad shape, he couldn’t ski gates. Sunday, he was back in the points, finishing 21st.
Sunday’s GS was Schlopy’s best World Cup result since taking eighth in the same discipline in Yongpong, South Korea, on March 4, 2006. In December of last year, the longest-tenured member of the U.S. Ski Team ripped cartilage in his left knee. Then 34, Schlopy decided that he wasn’t going to go the surgery route.
If he healed, he’d ski again. If not, he’s a 35-year-old now, and that would be a career.
“I turned the corner just recently and I’m just thankful I’m out here feeling good and healthy and young,” Schlopy said. “It’s just so much better than the last 10 months.”
Schlopy was 15th after the first run and the crowd roared its approval during his second when green numbers, indicating he was leading at a time interval, flashed on the scoreboard.
The bottom of the course got to him, as it did most racers, and he fell back to 21st.
“You can bike and run and jump and do everything you want all summer long, but it doesn’t replace skiing hard,” Schlopy said. “Now that I can ski hard, I’ll get in better shape. The last 20 seconds of the course is hopefully where I start making up time, instead of losing it.”
Nyman and company
Steven Nyman, more of speed specialist, had a respectable day Saturday, finishing 37th in the first run and missing out on a second with a time of 1:15.18. He was quick on the steeps, but strangely for him, couldn’t carry that speed on the flats.
“I was focused,” he said. “I knew what I needed to do and it was a little tough not running in the early numbers like I’m used to. I still had a decent start number and there were some holes that developed due to new snow. But I was pleased with my run. I skied well. I thought I performed well and I’m glad with my finish.”
Nyman will go at it in today’s super-G at 10 a.m.
Aspen’s Jake Zamansky was 47th (1:15.67). Despite a disappointing result, he was happy to be skiing in his native Colorado.
“I love skiing at home,” Zamansky said. “I love it when it’s a blue ski. I reminds me of growing up as a kid, it was so similar. It’s great to be here in front of a crowd.”
Tim Jitloff, 22, got his first taste of Birds of Prey. He was 1.5 seconds from cracking the top 30.
“The first full-time year is definitely a different experience. You have to get familiar with all the new courses that you really haven’t skied,” Jitloff said. “It’s preparation for the next couple of years. It just wasn’t how I wanted it to go. I was getting top-30s in the Europa Cup, and now we’re talking about getting top-30s in the World Cup.”
Bode Miller had a short day. Wearing the No. 1 bib, he hiked as the day’s first skier. Dane Spencer was a DNF.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or email@example.com.