Bryce Bennett skied to 11th at the FIS Alpine Ski World Championships alpine combined in St. Moritz, Switzerland. (Getty Images/Agence Zoom-Alexis Boichard)
ST. MORITZ, Switzerland (Feb. 13, 2017) – Standing six-foot-seven-inches tall, Bryce Bennett (Squaw Valley, CA) is built more like a power forward than a power slalom skier. But competing in his first World Championships, Bennett hammered through a challenging slalom course to an 11th-place finish in Monday’s alpine combined to lead the U.S. at the 2017 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships.
Switzerland’s Luca Aerni surprised the best skiers in the world, winning his first major event in front of the roaring home-country crowd. Prior to Monday’s win, Aerni’s best results were a couple Swiss national titles (slalom 2015, alpine combined 2012) and a handful of top 10 World Cup finishes. Austria’s Marcel Hirscher, currently the best ski racer in the world, took the silver, followed by Aerni’s Swiss teammate Mauro Caviezel taking the bronze.
Ryan Cochran-Siegle was 19th in Monday's alpine combined at the 2017 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. (Getty Images/AFP-Fabrice Coffrini)
Bennett, who towers over the slalom gates, finished 18th in the morning downhill, and then put down a solid slalom run to lead four Americans into the top 25, including Brennan Rubie (Salt Lake City, UT) in 15th, Ryan Cochran-Siegle (Starksboro, VT) in 19th and Jared Goldberg (Holladay, UT) on 21st.
“In slalom, I don’t know what it’s like to be short, so I just go out and do what I do best … make it work,” said Bennett, who also commented on the slalom course conditions. “The course workers are doing a pretty good job. They injected last night, which was a questionable call. It didn’t really sink in, so it broke through pretty quick. But for the most part it’s alright, doable.”
Brennan Rubie finished 15th in the alpine combined Monday. (Getty Images/AFP-Fabrice Coffrini)
The injected portions of the slalom course caught a number of racers off-guard as the top finishers from the morning downhill ran into trouble on the first break-over on the slalom track. Aerni, who finished 30th in the downhill and ran first in the slalom, posted the time to beat on a clean track and then watch in disbelief as 29 more racers failed to knock him off the top step of the podium.
Up next, the 2017 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships continue Tuesday with the team event. All events are streamed live on NBCsports.com and the NBC Sports app.
Switzerland grabbed the alpine combined gold and bronze medals with Luca Aerni and Mauro Caviezel finishing first and third respectively. Aerni and Caviezel are both first-time World Championship medalists.
Austria’s Marcel Hirscher picked up his fifth career World Championship medal, taking the silver in Monday’s alpine combined.
Bryce Bennett was the top American in 11th.
Brennan Rubie was 15th, Ryan Cochran-Siegle 19th and Jared Goldberg 21st.
Watch an encore of the men's alpine combined on NBCSN at 11 a.m. ET.
Next, the World Champs continues with the team event on Tuesday, which will be live streamed on NBCsports.com and live on NBCSN at 6 a.m. ET.
QUOTES Bryce Bennett In slalom, I don’t know what it’s like to be short, so I just go out and do what I do best … make it work.
The course workers are doing a pretty good job. They injected last night, which was a questionable call. It didn’t really sink in, so it broke through pretty quick. But for the most part it’s all right, doable.
Brennan Rubie I had a little mistake right off the bat, but it’s actually good for me because it makes me go faster on the bottom. I was motivated and pushed all the way. I’m very happy.
Jared Goldberg I skied a lot of the parts that I lost all my time in the downhill yesterday and I skied them way better. I was able to pull back to motivation and really go for it. It was mostly a good run. It was a lot of fun in the sunshine.
I’m just going to hammer the slalom as hard as I can. You’re going against Marcel Hirscher, Alexi Pinturault, all those guys are winning World Cup slaloms, and they’re pretty good in downhill. So really the only thing you can do is really go for it and not hold back.