Alpine

World Champs End With Slalom

by
USSA
2015-02-15 17:52
 

VAIL/BEAVER CREEK, CO (Feb. 15. 2015)—After almost two weeks of bluebird skies and warm temperatures, winter weather returned for the last day of the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. Battling blowing snow and difficult visibility, France’s Jean-Baptiste Grange won a thrilling slalom gold, followed by Germany’s Fritz Dopfer and Felix Neureuther in second and third, respectively. Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) and Tim Kelley (Starksboro, VT) were the only American finishers, taking 21st and 23rd place, respectively.

The weather proved to play a role in Sunday’s slalom final standings. The course was injected and very icy on the top of the hill. Then, two inches of fresh snow coated the hockey rink-slick surface, making for a challenging slalom course.

Austria’s Marcel Hirscher—the favored slalom skier who won the World Champs alpine combined—sat atop the standings after the first run. Ted Ligety and Tim Kelley were the lone Americans to ski a second slalom run. David Chodounsky (Crested Butte, CO) and Will Brandenburg (Spokane, WA) were the other American starters in slalom, but both DNFed first run.


Tim Kelley waves to the crowd after finishing 23rd in the slalom. (Getty Images/Al Bello)

The first course set was turny and significantly longer than normal World Cup slalom courses. With 73 gates and 70 turning gates, 42 of the 100 racers did not finish the first run.

“It’s basically like a hockey rink up there,” said Ligety after his first slalom run. “That was definitely a tough feeling, especially in a turny course. It’s not the nice, hero, feel-good snow we’re used to here.”

Going into the second run, the Talon race crew worked on the surface and the course set was much straighter than the first.

In the end, poor visibility and challenging conditions got the best of Austrian superstar and slalom-favorite Marcel Hirscher. He hooked a tip going into the final pitch of the slalom course, resulting in a DNF. Ligety also had a few mistakes, which knocked him back from his 15th place finish first run to 21st. Kelley took his first World Championships finish and was excited about his 23rd place result.

“[I was] probably a little conservative on the second run, but it was fun,” said Kelley. “I’ve been struggling this past month to finish—I had a string of DNFs. So to put two runs down and make it into the top 30 is amazing.”


The crowd was big for the American skiers at the slalom, including many of the athletes' family and friends. (Pictured here: David Chodounsky's parents)

Sunday night’s closing ceremonies will bring the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships to a close. Next up, the World Cup skiers will head to Saalbach, Austria.

“The crowd here this whole entire Championships has been awesome,” said Ligety. “It’s really cool to see how many people are showing up for the event, and the enthusiasm and how loud they’re cheering. It’s definitely been one of the highlights. I think these Championships have been really successful for the U.S. Ski Team. We had some good performances and I think we showed the crowd some good skiing.”

HIGHLIGHTS

  • This was the sixth time Ligety had a slalom start at World Championships, and was only the second time Ligety finished the slalom at World Champs, joining his 19th-place finish at the Garmisch-Partenkirchen slalom in 2011.
  • This is Tim Kelley’s first World Championships. Kelley, had not had a single World Cup finish prior to finishing 23rd in Sunday’s World Championship slalom.
  • Jean-Batiste Grange had won the Garmisch-Partenkirchen World Championships slalom in 2011, but had not won a World Cup since then.
  • Austria finished the World Championships with a total of nine medals, the most of any country. The United States finished second in the total medal count with a final tally of five medals.

QUOTES
Ted Ligety
There’s no feeling good on this course right now. It’s basically like a hockey rink up there. That was definitely a tough feeling, especially in a turny course. It’s not the nice, hero, feel-good snow we’re used to here, but I skied OK in places. I just made a huge mistake—not a spectacular looking one—but one that costs you tons and tons of time right here on the bottom flat. I was basically at a walking pace at the finish. 

The crowd here these entire Championships have been awesome. It’s really cool to see how many people are showing up for the event, and the enthusiasm and how loud they’re cheering. It’s definitely been one of the highlights. I think these Championships have been really successful for the U.S. Ski Team. We had some good performances and I think we showed the crowd some good skiing.

It will be nice to go home for a couple days and then start back up in the World Cup again. I was about the same amount of points back last year in the giant slalom title. With a bit of luck and some good skiing I might have a chance there.

Tim Kelley
I was a little bit nervous, but I was more nervous for first run. Once I made it down first run, I knew I could do it second run. I skied well. Probably a little conservative on the second run, but it was fun. I’ve been struggling this past month to finish—I had a string of DNFs. So to put two runs down and make it in to top 30 is amazing.

David Chodounsky
The snow conditions were not good today. Everyone was talking about how icy it is, but that was only the surface and then it was very grippy. My setup just wasn't prepared for it. It was unfortunate that the conditions were so variable.

It was an unbelievable World Champs though. I appreciate all the fans showing up and being so energetic. It was by far the best World Champs event I've attended!

RESULTS
Men's World Championships slalom results

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