Truckee’s Tim Jitloff leads U.S. men in Beaver Creek GS
BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — Sunday’s giant slalom was a heartbreaker for the American fans at Beaver Creek, as expected winner Ted Ligety fell on his first run and did not finish.
Truckee native Tim Jitloff, however, took a solid top-15 finish in 14th place and David Chodounsky skied from bib 51 to 16th place.
“It’s nice to always be in the points, but I’m looking for a little more than 14th place,” Jitloff said. “I skied really good today, solid first run. I think I just could have cleaned it up a little on that first run. In the second run I felt like I skied really well … I was pushing it towards the bottom, had a mistake there on the final pitch.
“The snow was super, super aggressive. I’m a guy that likes to push hard on the ski, so that’s not necessarily my forte. I’ll do better at places like Alta Badia where it’s a little bit icy.”
In a first run that had its fair share of crashes, Ligety — who had won the Beaver Creek GS five times in the previous five years — was skiing strong, leading at each interval until he uncharacteristically pinched off the line over Harrier Jump, booted out and slid out on his side, crashing through a gate and ending his day prematurely.
“A lot of guys are having trouble with how much the snow transformed overnight to being so aggressive because it was so cold and clear,” Ligety said. “That’s catching a lot of guys off guard and for sure caught me off guard. It’s a bummer.”
With Ligety and French aces Alexis Pinturault and Thomas Fanara out in the first run, it left room for Austrian Marcel Hirscher to redeem his World Championships GS second place to Ligety’s gold at the same venue.
Hirscher crossed the line 0.98 seconds ahead of Frenchman Victor Muffat-Jeandet, with Norwegian wunderkind Henrik Kristoffersen rounding out the podium in third, 1.31 seconds behind.
It was the 15th time Hirscher stood atop a World Cup GS podium, surpassing Herman Maier and Benjamin Raich for the all-time GS win record for Austrian men. Hirscher now sits one victory shy of tying Annemarie Moser-Proell’s all-time Austrian record of 16 career GS wins.
When asked whether his approach changed at all after watching his two closest competitors in Ligety and Pinturault crash within sight of the finish, his Bode-esque answer offered insight into the competitive mindset of one of the most prolific technical skiers the sport has ever seen.
“You know me, I’m always skiing against the time, not against Ted, or Felix, or whoever else,” he said. “I’m always searching for the perfect turns, and maybe I can be faster than the best time or as close as possible to the best time. In general, I’m happy with my skiing so far and hopefully I can bring this momentum back to Europe.”
For the Americans, Andrew Weibrecht skied out on his first run, while Tommy Ford and Michael Ankeny did not qualify for a second run.
The men’s tour now heads to Val d’Isere, France, for slalom and GS races Dec. 12-13.
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Students frustrated at the cancellation of sports waved signs and delivered speeches at a Truckee High School protest in an attempt to return to the field this year.