With equal skill and luck, Ligety wins bronze
February 10, 2015
BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — Ted was done like dinner. He said it himself.
The defending world champion in the combined skied a "horrible" — Ligety's word for it — downhill on Sunday morning during the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships men's combined at Beaver Creek.
"Realistically, it's out of reach," Ligety said of his medal chances between runs. "I need a big buffer on (Austrian Marcel) Hirscher in a slalom run and a buffer on (France's Alexis) Pinturault and not be 3 seconds off everyone else. It's not a good place to be in."
Not as bad as you think, Ted.
Yes, Ligety was 3.03 seconds behind the first-run leader, Norway's Kjetil Jansrud, but being in 29th place going into the slalom apparently had its advantages on Sunday.
Ligety was the second to run when it came to the gates, and having a firm course on a warm afternoon was a huge bonus.
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Hirscher, the first to run, won. Jansrud needed all of his 3.16-second advantage over Hirscher to survive for second, and Ligety ended up with bronze.
"It was dumb luck to run one and two with the soft snow," Ligety said. "Jansrud probably lost tenths on the bottom gates because it was so sticky. … It was cool, for sure. Whenever you win a medal, it's awesome. It's not the way I'd want my race to go, a not-good downhill and an amazing slalom besides the mistake."
Ligety did get back in the seat a bit on the upper part of the course, and that may have cost him a differently colored medal. But as he said, he was playing with house money on Sunday.
And that would be the U.S.A.'s third medal of the Championships, which would be precisely three more than the red, white and blue won in 1999, the last time they were hosts here.
Heartbreak for Goldberg
Utah's Jared Goldberg simply nailed the downhill in the morning with a time of 1 minute, 43.69 seconds, 0.91 seconds faster then his downhill run on Saturday.
"I didn't ski exactly where I wanted to yesterday, and today, I really tightened the rope," Goldberg said between runs. "I was able to come off line and ski straighter and be more aggressive. It's a more fun way to ski."
That left Goldberg in third place, and 28th to leave the gate for the slalom. With only five days of slalom practice this season, the slalom was a tall order for Goldberg, and he missed the second gate.
Nonetheless, he turned around to stay on course and ski the rest of the way receiving a warm welcome from the crowd for his efforts. He finished 29th.
"I was pretty bummed — instantly," Goldberg said when it was all done. "I was feeling really confident and ready to send it to the bottom. I didn't have any nerves and then to have something funky like that happen definitely sucks."
Sunday fun day
The last time Steve Nyman skied in a combined was 2009 in Kitzbuehel. He threw his back out and that was that for combineds. For Nyman and Andrew Weibrecht to have any chance — even before the slalom course turned to slush — they had to crush the downhill.
Neither did. Weibrecht was eighth and Nyman 12th after the downhill. So Sunday turned into an exercise of remembering how to slalom.
"I told myself to go to the top of the turn. You've got to drive to the outside and give myself room. I forgot the top-of-the-turn part," joked Nyman, who finished the day 21st.
Meanwhile, Weibrecht was 22nd.
"I felt like I was killing it, but I was a little bit slower," he joked. "I think I looked like I made good turns. That's what matters."
Tim Jitloff, a Truckee High grad who now lives in Reno, ended up 17th. As a giant-slalom skier, he was caught between the disciplines, but it was a good result.
"I had nothing to lose today," Jitloff said. "I was just trying to do the best job I could for me. I had a lot of fun. Now it's my opportunity to do the giant slalom, where I can be a medal threat, is coming up Friday, and I am fired up for that."
Chris Freud is sports editor at the Vail Daily, one of the Sun's sister papers in Colorado.
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