Weibrecht, Ligety lead Americans in super-G
BEAVER CREEK — While the American women did a number on the field up in Lake Louise, Alberta, Andrew Weibrecht and Ted Ligety led the way for the gents with 10th- and 11th-place finishes during Saturday’s super-G at Beaver Creek’s Birds of Prey.
The U.S.A. had five in the points with Tim Jitloff in 24th, Thomas Biesemeyer in 25th and Travis Ganong in 28th.
But who’s counting?
This was a very good weekend for Weibrecht. The two-time super-G Olympic medalist was 30th in the downhill and 10th on Saturday.
Coming off a myriad of injuries, making the points in the early races of the season is vital for “The War Horse” to getting better start positions, particularly in the downhill.
For example, Weibrecht had started 62nd and finished 30th in Friday’s downhill.
“I looked it up yesterday. It’s been 1,777 days since I scored downhill points,” Weibrecht said. “That’s nice to get the monkey off my back. Hopefully, today I’ll get a top 10 and everything will be good.”
It hasn’t been 1,777 days for Weibrecht in the downhill precisely — Jan. 23, 2010 in Kitzbuehel, Austria, was his last top-30 finish, and that’s 1,792 days — but the point remains.
And Weibrecht got his top 10 in super-G on Saturday in what is becoming his style, being a little all over the place.
The top portion of his run was relatively clean. He said he “got a little squashed” at Pumphouse. That set up a sketchy run through The Abyss.
“Down bottom, coming out of the Abyss, it’s just a tough switch. It comes at you pretty quick. You’ve got to be in the right place and commit before you see the gate. It’s a really tough couple of gates.”
Tenth on Saturday propelled Weibrecht into 13th in the World Cup super-G standings.
Ligety finished fourth in the Birds of Prey super-G in 2012, and fifth in 2013, so 11th on Saturday wasn’t hugely pleasing to him. Birds of Prey is one of the more technical super-G sets on tour, and Ligety feels he can ski well here in the discipline.
He said that he left a lot of time on the course, particularly at the start.
“This start is really daunting and intimidating,” Ligety said. “You just can’t let that get to you, and I skied way, way too conservatively on top. It looks hairy and gnarly, and it’s actually pretty easy if you’re a good technical skier.”
And Ligety is, which brings all eyes on him for today’s giant slalom. He and Austria’s Marcel Hirscher will renew their rivalry after Hirscher won Round 1 in Soelden, Austria, back in October.
“I’m really looking forward to tomorrow,” Ligety said. “It’s always fun to ski GS here. It’s always a fun hill. I’ve had a lot of success here, and I’m looking forward to it, for sure.”
The triumph of points
Sure, in a dreamworld of Robert Redford’s “Downhill Racer,” someone from the back of the pack makes a charge and finishes fourth as David Chappellet, of Idaho Springs, no less, does in his fictional World Cup debut.
In reality, the race within the race is to finish in the top 30 and make the points for younger skiers.
Jitloff surged from the No. 42 bib to 24th giving him his first World Cup super-G points. Before Saturday, his best finish in the discipline had been 39th.
“I was really psyched with my top. It’s really difficult up there,” Jitloff said. “I just sent it as hard as I could … Unfortunately, on the bottom, I got a little crazy coming out of Screech Owl, and I could feel my speed get lost there. It hurts. As I came to the bottom, I said to myself, ‘I may of lost a little time, but I’ve got to arc everything to the finish to make it in there.”
Biesemeyer was right behind Jitloff in 25th. That was fine with him as he’s still battling a knee injury.
“It was really hard to focus on the race itself because my knee wasn’t feeling so good,” he said. “I was really hoping to step out of the gate and not feel it, and make one good turn and just be like, ‘All right, let’s do this thing.’ That really wasn’t the case.”
As it turned out, Biesemeyer did feel his knee on the second turn of the race, but he toughed it out.
Ganong just didn’t get much speed going on the top, much like Ligety, and was disappointed with 28th. Jared Goldberg was painfully close to the points in 32nd, while Steve Nyman was a DNF early in the course.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, email@example.com and @cfreud.
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