That did not just happen
BEAVER CREEK – Really?
And we mean that in a good way.
We are getting spoiled here at Beaver Creek with Ted Ligety going off like this.
Think about how much can go wrong in two runs of giant slalom – hooking a gate, hitting a small patch of ice or the tiniest build-up of snow. You don’t feel well or right on a particular day. (Ligety only has one chance each year on home snow.)
You can lose a race by 1-hundredth of a second – Teddy did so here in 2008 to Austria’s Benni Raich.
Ligety’s painting like an artist right now, and so is Lindsey Vonn.
In our annual Birds of Prey look northward to Lake Louise, Alberta, where the women always race on this weekend, the roar that first came in the media cabin when then-Kildow won has been replaced by a clap and laugh.
Like Ligety in a GS, Vonn’s just expected to crush it, and she did Sunday … again. As brilliant as her record is at Lake Lindsey – seven wins in her last seven starts and 14 World Cup wins there – this sort of thing just shouldn’t be taken for granted. (By the way, 14 wins would be a terrific career for most, much less being just Vonn’s record at one site.)
This is not as easy as Ted makes it look in GS and Vonn in the speed events. Appreciate this, people. There are really good racers out there, trying to chase them. Savor it. These types of performances don’t come along often.
Seen and heard from the weekend up in Red Tail:
• Here’s a cool Ligety stat, courtesy of The Denver Post’s John Meyer. This is Ligety’s 31st podium on tour. He also has 13 fourth-place finishes. A 10th of a second here or a few hundreds there and that podium number is even more impressive. This is fine line that elite ski racers walk/swoosh, and it makes athletes like Ligety and Vonn all the more amazing.
• Oh, no, they’re getting closer: Ligety won in Soelden, Austria, by 2.75 seconds in October. He won Sunday’s GS by “only” 1.78 seconds. First off, one reporter asked a question starting with the phrase, “You’re winning by an average of 2.25 seconds.” This is like a guy who homers three times on baseball’s opening day and then some guy on ESPN announces that so-and-so is on a pace to hit 486 dingers this season.
Ligety replied by joking that, at his current pace, he’ll be down by 0.2 seconds two giant slaloms from now. According to this math, Ted is done for in Alta Badia, Italy, in two weeks.
• Overall for Teddy? The jury is out. Ligety says that Aksel Lund Svindal is the favorite the way the Norwegian is racing right now. I agree completely. My two cents is that Ligety needs to get his slalom going before he can start thinking overall – not that he shouldn’t have big goals. Austria’s Marcel Hirscher was the exception to the rule in winning the overall with primarily two disciplines (GS and slalom). You need three and some points from the combined like, say, Svindal (downhill, super-G and GS).
Regardless of his fourth places in super-Gs so far this season, Ligety was 15th in slalom last year, and the math doesn’t work with that finish.
• An example of this was Vonn last season. She was second in GS. Honestly, that’s just silly. By the way, Vonn’s thrown her hat into the ring for another women’s overall. She’s at 310 points behind Tina Maze (397) and Maria Hoefl-Riesch (319).
• Anyone ready to see Lindsey here next year? Thought so.
• How’s this for a highly-qualified forerunner? The last person down before Ligety took off was none other than Vail’s Mikaela Shiffrin.
“I did it last year, so I knew kind of what to expect,” she said. “It was so much fun. It’s my favorite course.”
The 17-year-old rising star finished third in the Levi, Finland, slalom and had two top-10s last week in Aspen. She picked up two more Nor-Am wins earlier this week and stopped over here before she heads to St. Moritz, Switzerland, for her next set of tech events. In the meantime, there is no looking ahead as far as Beaver Creek 2015.
“Oh, no. I have to live in the moment right now,” she said. “I’m having such a good time, but I have to stay focused. If I think about anything a week in the future, I’m going to get lost in it. I have to take it day by day.”
• Life-changing moment: Most of the American crowd probably shrugged its shoulders when Matteo Marsaglia won Saturday’s super-G. But for Marsaglia, wow. He became a hero back home. With the intensity and passion with which the central European nations follow ski racing, Marsaglia’s life has changed forever.
• Stock rising: Travis Ganong. He appears dialed in with downhill. There will be some bumps along the road this season no doubt, but he’s going to be on the podium soon.
• Stock rising, part II: Andrew Weibrecht. Yes, it was a disappointing DNF in Saturday’s super-G, but the Lake Placid, N.Y., native seems to be on his way back from assorted shoulder and ankle injuries. Weibrecht did some serious bib-hopping this week in training and in Friday’s downhill from dreadful bib numbers. He will punch a few through, and improve his start position.
• Americans in the points Sunday: Tommy Ford was 26th in his first outing since a hip injury, while Tim Jitloff was 27th.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.