Truckee’s Tim Jitloff 7th in Alta Badia GS
ALTA BADIA, Italy — Ted Ligety led the U.S. men’s tech team with a fourth-place finish in Sunday’s World Cup giant slalom in Alta Badia, Italy, while Truckee native Tim Jitloff was seventh and Tommy Ford 12th.
Austria’s Marcel Hirscher won his third straight GS race and became the only racer in history to win three times at Alta Badia. Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway was second, followed by Victor Muffat-Jeandet of France in third.
Following a disappointing first run for the Americans, the athletes and coaching staff made a few changes to re-charge for the second run. Ford was first to start the second run and posted the fastest second run of the day.
“We made some good adjustments for the second run by the staff and athletes to find where the speed was on the hill and attack it,” said head men’s coach Sasha Rearick. “Absolutely career best run for Tommy Ford on the second run. He was impressive — very, very, impressive.”
Ligety and Jitloff sat 1-2 on the leaderboard midway through the second run after nailing the middle section and carrying speed into a pair of rollers into the finish. They watched as racer after racer failed to knock them off the leaderboard.
France’s Mathieu Faivre and Alexis Pinturault finally split the U.S. leaders, knocking Jitloff to fourth as Ligety remaining atop the leaderboard with three racers remaining. However, the victory wasn’t meant to be for Ligety as Muffat-Jeandet moved into the lead, followed by the 21-year-old Kristoffersen, and finally Hirscher, whose victory solidified his lead atop the GS standings.
“I knew going into the second run that I needed to throw down a great run, because my performance to this point has just been OK and not up to my capabilities,” Jitloff said. “I was very nervous for sure, but that nervousness helped push me.”
For Ligety, just getting back toward the top of the leaderboard was a major accomplishment, but he admits he still has a lot of work to do after suffering through back issues for the past couple of months.
“I feel a bit smaller and weaker than I was two months ago,” said Ligety, who took three weeks off from training to rest his back. “I don’t have any pain anymore; but I just need to get back to being strong again.”
Up next, the men tackle a new event, the parallel giant slalom Monday night at Alta Badia.
“I’m not really sure, like everyone, how that’s going to work,” Jitloff said of the new race format. “But it’s still a race and it has points, so we have to charge and do our job there.”
Jitloff leads Parallel GS
Fresh off his seventh-place finish Sunday, Jitloff led the U.S. men with a ninth-place finish in Monday night’s new parallel giant slalom. Ligety and Andrew Weibrecht were both knocked out in the first round, finishing 24th and 29th, respectively.
The first of its kind on the World Cup, the parallel GS was full of surprises, with many pre-race favorites making early exits and a dark horse or two providing thrilling action in the new format.
Two very familiar faces, though not from recent GS races, were left standing in the final heat. Norwegians Kjetil Jansrud and Aksel Lund Svindal had spent the last hour methodically picking off opponent after opponent on the modified two-jump Gran Risa slope. When the snow dust finally settled, it was Jansrud who took his first victory of the season, just edging out his compatriot in the simple, cross-the-finish-first-and-win format.
Third-place finisher Andre Myhrer of Sweden took the victory in the small final by a sizable margin over German surprise contender Dominik Schwaiger, whose best World Cup result before the night was 19th in the previous day’s GS.
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Several Truckee-Tahoe skiers will vie for Olympic medals next month.