Alpine

Ligety Attacks to Bronze in Combined

by
USSA
2015-02-08 17:18
 

VAIL/BEAVER CREEK, CO (Feb. 8. 2015)—On the coattails of a record-breaking crowd turnout for men’s downhill on Saturday, throngs of fans showed up again to Beaver Creek, CO to cheer on the men’s World Champs combined athletes. Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) attacked from the back—starting 29th second run—and grabbed an unlikely bronze medal. Austria’s Marcel Hirscher won the combined gold medal, followed by Kjetil Jansrud of Norway.

The men’s combined at the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships is a one-day event that includes the combined time of a morning downhill run with an afternoon slalom run.

The morning downhill proved to be dramatic, with Czech Republic’s Ondrej Bank taking a hard crash off the Red Tail jump. Bank lost a ski, crashed into a gate panel, hit his head on the ice-injected course, and slid unconsciously across the finish line. Medical staff treated Bank on the snow and then moved the athlete to Vail Valley Medical Center. It has been confirmed that Bank suffered a concussion, facial lacerations, and a leg contusion.

Ligety—2013’s World Champion in men’s combined—was next in the start gate after Bank. Ligety stood for 17 minutes while Bank received attention. Not known as a downhill threat, Ligety’s mission was to ski as fast as possible in order to give himself an achievable time in the afternoon’s slalom. Ligety had a challenging downhill race and finished 3.03 seconds off the morning’s fastest time. His downhill effort seemed to put him out of the chance of winning a combined medal. Even he shook his head afterwards and said, “I skied horribly.”


Jared Goldberg took third in the downhill, before skiing out in the slalom. He finishd 29th overall. (Getty Images-AFP/Fabrice Coffrini)

In addition to Ligety, four other American racers competed in Sunday’s combined event. The highest finishing American in downhill was 23-year-old Jared Goldberg (Holladay, UT), a rising star in the U.S. Ski Team ranks. Goldberg took third overall in the downhill.

Rounding out the American effort in the downhill portion of the men’s combined were Andrew Weibrecht (Lake Placid, NY) in eighth, Steven Nyman (Sundance, UT) in 12th, Tim Jitloff (Reno, NV) in 27th, and Ligety in 29th.

However, there is always a big shuffle that takes place in the men’s combined, as athletes trade long downhill sticks for short slalom skis.

The first slalom skier out of the gate was Austria’s Marcel Hirscher who is respected as a slalom and GS specialist. Hirscher was 3.16 seconds behind Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud’s fastest downhill time, and Hirscher skied straight and aggressively through the slalom course.

Ligety followed Hirscher out of the gate, skiing hard and snapping off turns. Towards the end of the track, however, a challenging fallaway gate got the best of Ligety, forcing him onto his skis tails and into soft snow on the side of the track. Ligety finished 0.30 off Hirscher’s combined time.


Starting 29th, Ligety's slalom run won him the bronze medal at the World Champs alpine combined. (Getty Images-AFP/Nathan Bilow)

But, racer after racer came down, and no one could keep up to Hirscher and Ligety’s times. When Jansrud was set to race, running 30th, Ligety was already guaranteed a medal.

At the end of the day, Norway’s Jansrud and Ligety joined Austria’s Hirscher on the men’s combined podium. Jansrud’s incredible downhill time and respectable slalom race earned him a silver, and Ligety won bronze.

“This is definitely a surprise. After the downhill run, I thought there was no possibility of getting anywhere close to a medal,” said Ligety. "Whenever you win a medal, it’s an awesome day."

The rest of the team was also stoked. Good on Ted and good on America!” said Nyman. “Three medals so far. Performing on home snow is great. I think the crowd is loving it.”

HIGHLIGHTS

  • U.S. Ski Team final results in men’s combined: Ligety third, Jitloff 17th, Nyman 21st, Weibrecht 22nd, and Goldberg 29th.
  • This was the greatest margin made up in a single run combined by both Hirscher and Ligety. In 2009, Julien Lizeroux from France took 22nd in downhill, 2.93 seconds back, before taking the overall silver. Hirscher made up 3.16 seconds and Ligety made up 3.03 seconds.
  • During the 2013 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Schladming, Austria, Ligety won three gold medals—in super G, GS, and men’s combined.
  • This was both Marcel Hirscher’s first combined gold medal, and Kjetil Jansrud's first combined podium.
  • After an amazing third place finish in the downhill portion, Jared Goldberg boot topped a gate in slalom, which threw him out of the course. But he was determined to finish the run, and took 29th overall.
  • The women’s combined is on-tap for Monday, with the downhill run at 10:00 a.m. and the slalom run at 2:15 p.m MST. Universal Sports will air the first run live at 11:55 a.m. EST and NBCSN will air the slalom at 5:00 p.m. EST.

QUOTES
Ted Ligety
This is definitely a surprise. After the downhill run I thought there was no possibility of getting anywhere close to a medal. It was just dumb luck, and good strategy to be running one and two just because it’s so hot and such soft snow. It was more lucky than anything else.

Whenever you win a medal, it’s an awesome day. It’s not the way I would have liked to have my race go, as far as having a good downhill run. I had an amazing slalom run, besides having a big mistake.

For 59 out of the 60 gates I was beating Marcel [Hirscher] and that’s a huge confidence booster for me. That’s encouraging for the slalom on Sunday.

I think if I was a half a second faster in the downhill, I wouldn’t have been able to get a medal at all. That’s how big of a difference running early was. It was a brilliant strategy to be that slow, I guess! That’s the thing about ski racing. It takes a lot of luck and a lot of weird things happening.

I skied with reckless abandon, not really thinking there was any chance. When I had that big mistake, I was millimeters away from calling it quits and pulling out. Luckily I didn’t, obviously.

Jared Goldberg
From first run:
It’s sweet to come down and be a second ahead. It’s an awesome thing. It was a legitimate fist pump in the finish.

I just like to switch it up and give myself more chances. It keeps myself from burning out on one discipline. Your slalom helps your downhill; your downhill helps your slalom. The more all-around skier you are, the better you’ll be able to make sweet recoveries and be more agile and smooth on your skis. If you get late, you can snap a turn off, while other downhill guys can’t.

From second run:
I was pretty bummed, instantly. I was feeling really confident and was ready to send it to the bottom. I didn’t have any nerves and then to have some funky like that happen definitely sucks, but whatever. It’s slalom. 

I was happy to have a shot and to be in the running. That definitely made me really motivated to take a bunch of runs and get ready. I was happy with my first run—one out of two is good. 

Andrew Weibrecht
I was a little hard of my edges. I felt like I was killing it…but I was actually going a little bit slower than I thought. I think I probably look like I make good turns, so that’s what matters. The snow wasn’t a big factor for me. I think I would have been a shot in the dark no matter what the snow was like. It’s just fun to be here. It’s a fun race to do and that’s how I treat it.

Steven Nyman
I had some good turns! I told myself you gotta get the top of the turn, drive to the outside, and give myself room. But I forgot the top of the turn part! It was a lot of fun to do that again. When they gave me the opportunity, I said ‘Why not?’ I’d link a couple good turns, and then there were some that were pretty bad. 

In 2009 in Kitzbuehel I blew my back out skiing slalom, so it was nice to get back into it. I’d definitely like to do more of it in the future. 

Good on Ted and good on America! Three medals so far. Performing on home snow is great. I think the crowd is loving it.

It’s amazing right now. Even today in the combined, people are lining the hill. Yesterday [during the downhill] was just slammed. For our guys to perform like we have, it’s been great. What they’ve built here is amazing—the VIP areas, the grandstands. People are saying that they have to arrive by 9:00 in the morning or else they don’t get a seat. It’s so cool. People are fired up for this. I’m proud to be an American downhiller!

RESULTS
Men's alpine combined results

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