The men’s giant slalom: Ted Day or not?
BEAVER CREEK — It’s starting to get a little scary at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships.
Welcome to Day 12, the men’s giant slalom — and the Americans do not have a gold medal.
Usually, men’s GS day would be money in the bank. Men’s GS, of course, is Ted Ligety time. Ligety, wearing bib No. 6, won his last four starts on Birds of Prey, and five of six when it comes to GS.
Ted’s title of Mr. GS is being usurped by Austria’s Marcel Hirscher (Bib no. 3). December’s GS here was the only giant slalom this season that Hirscher hasn’t won. Hirscher was downright slovenly, finishing, gasp, third, behind Ligety and France’s Alexis Pinturault. Not only is Hirscher 4-for-5 in the GS this season, but in his four wins, he has won by more than a second.
Hirscher is a smiling assassin. Every year, he comes to Beaver Creek in December and talks about how Ligety is, “Mr. GS.” Hirscher says that Ted is unbeatable. Hirscher also generally says that whoever is leading in the overall in the early season can’t possibly be caught.
If he knew who Lou Holtz was, Hirscher would be the second coming of Holtz.
“The way Aksel Lund Svindal or Kjetil Jansrud or whoever is racing, he can’t be caught.”
And then, you look up the World Cup points at around this time of year, and Hirscher is leading, this year on his way to his fourth overall championship.
Then, throw in the fact that Hirscher saw Teddy come away with three gold medals at the 2013 Worlds in Schladming, Austria, to his one, and well, Hirscher sees a chance to turn the tables.
The Austrian already has gold in the combined and is the prohibitive favorite in the slalom on Sunday. GS today would be three golds, four if you count the Nations Team Event.
The one thing Ligety’s got is that this is his hill. This GS course is a bit more speed oriented and less technical. Ted’s technically from Park City, Utah, but this is his home hill.
So, can Teddy make his stand here or is this going to turn into Hirscher’s Worlds? The first run is at 10:15 a.m. with the second at 2:15 p.m.
Format: The best combined time of two runs wins. The top 60 of the first run get a second run, but focus on the top 30, who will make the flip. The fastest in the first run goes 30th in the second run.
Stats: The course starts at 10,247 feet and drops 1,312 feet over nearly a mile (4,887 feet.)
Birds of Prey GS winners: Lasse Kjus (2004); Bode Miller (2005); Massimiliano Blardone (2006); Daniel Albrecht (2007); Benni Raich (2008); Carlo Janka (2009); Ligety (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014) and Hirscher (2011).
Weather: Forecast high of 49 degrees. The course has been holding up well recently for afternoon runs.
People to watch
Contrary to the last 480 words or so, there are other racers in the mix today. Check out France’s Alexis Pinturault (2), Germany’s Fritz Dopfer (5) and France’s Thomas Fanara (4). Austria’s Reich (1) is also a contender. We would like to see him medal in what is likely his final Worlds.
Americans: Ligety (6), Tim Jitloff (9), Brennan Rubie (33), Tommy Ford (34) and David Chodounsky (40).
We all missed on Fenninger, so we don’t know why we’re still doing this.
Shauna Farnell, Vail Daily: Ligety
Chris Freud, Vail Daily: Hirscher
Pat Graham, AP Denver: Ligety.
Melanie Wong, Vail Daily: Ligety.
Rita’s two closest peers have climbed the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) peak 21 times each, but both of them have retired from mountain climbing.