Race primer: The super combined
BEAVER CREEK ” The super combined was wide open, and that was before Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal got hurt during Tuesday’s training.
Honestly, even if he were healthy, who knows who the favorite would be? After all, Bode Miller was a lock to win last year’s super combi, right?
For the uninitiated, the super combined is a two-part race. The first leg is a full downhill race at 11 a.m., followed by a slalom at 2:30 p.m. The best combined time wins.
Whereas regular combined events have two runs of slalom, super combi only has one run of the gates. Mathematically, downhillers should have an advantage because two-thirds of the total time will come from their specialty.
The big guys are not necessarily as nimble when it comes to gates and a slalomer can make up the time. On the other hand, slalom specialists can’t fall behind too much in the downhill.
So we turn to Italian coach Claudio Ravetto, who gave us a sound plan before last year’s super combi.
“The strategy is winning the downhill and winning the slalom.”
Here’s the lowdown:
Weather: The good news is that the snow has moved out. Weather.com is forecasting a high of 36 degrees in Vail which translates to the mid-20s at the finish stadium. That is positively balmy compared to last year.
Birds of Prey defending champion: Svindal. Unfortunately as noted, he is out and we all wish him a speedy recovery.
Downhill stats: The first run drops from 11,427 feet at the top to 8,944 feet at Red Tail Camp. That’s a plummet of 2,484 feet. The course is 8,606 feet long.
Slalom stats: Skiers will bash the gates from 9,626 to 8,944 feet. The math people in the audience tell you that’s a difference of 685 feet.
Number of racers: 62
Downhill intervals: The Brink, Pumphouse, Golden Eagle and The Abyss.
Slalom interval: The Abyss.
Look out on the downhill: Let’s start with the Golden Eagle Jump followed by the compression at the Abyss. Not only did it claim Svindal, but with a lower snow pack than usual, all the racers were going off this ledge higher and farther during Tuesday’s training than in years past. The Flyway to the Brink was a tough place also Tuesday to get traction. Ski techs were up all night working on this.
Look out on the slalom: Everywhere. Even with Wednesday’s snowfall, the course is going to be faster than usual.
Americans (bib number): Miller (4), Ted Ligety (8), Steven Nyman (27), Andrew Weibrecht (37), T.J. Lanning (45) and Marco Sullivan (52).
Favorites: Switzerland’s Marc Berthod, Croatia’s Ivica Kostelic, Switzerland’s Silvan Zurbriggen and Austria’s Benni Raich were 2-3-4-5 in super-combi points last year behind Svindal last season. Miller at Birds of Prey is always in this category.
Darkhorses: Do not forget Jean-Baptiste Grange of France. Our Spidey sense points us to Italy’s Peter Fill, and although he hasn’t skied much downhill recently, we’d love to see Ligety.
Freud: I haven’t picked a winner since the Nixon Administration, so I’m either the kiss of death or really due. Make me proud, Benni Raich.
Ian Cropp: Croppaganda goes with Ligety. As always, no wagering.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or email@example.com.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.