Friday, February 18, 2011

France captures team race at world championships in Garmisch

By the U.S. Ski Team, Ski Racing Magazine News Service and idaho Mountain Express

La Marseillaise played over a FIS Alpine World Champion-ship podium Wednesday for the first time since 2001 when the late Regine Cavagnoud won the super G at St Anton.

The French won the team event with a full set of heroics on a parallel GS course down the Kandahar track defeating the prohibitive favorite Austri-ans on a tiebreaker and .28 of a second. Sweden crushed Italy 4-0 for the bronze medal.

World Championship med-als and 100,000 Swiss Francs were on the line with the winning team earning 50,000 Francs.

Introduced in 2005 the team event has been run a couple of different ways with a new par-allel format introduced at last winter's Audi FIS Alpine World Cup Finals in Garmisch.

The Czech Republic took the inaugural crown, however Austria was the reigning World Champion team dating back to 2007 Are, Sweden. The 2009 event was canceled due to weather in Val d'Isere, France.

"We have seen in disciplines like cross-country skiing and ski jumping that the team events are the most-loved events for the fans," said FIS President Gian Franco Kasper before Wednesday's race.

"After a successful event here at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, we hope that the NTE will not just be part of the FIS World Championships and World Cup but also on the program of the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi 2014."

The winning French squad had Taina Barioz, Thomas Fa-nara, Tessa Worley and Cyprien Richard working through the parallel ladder. Spelling the difference in the final, however, was Anemone Marmottan with a critical .01 margin over Austrian Michael Kirchgasser. It was decided by a desperate stretch to the finish timer and Richards' 25.41-second time over Philipp Scho-erghofer.

Italy handed the U.S. an early exit from the competition but could not compare with the Swedes in the third place run off. Anja Paerson defeated Federica Brignone, Matts Ols-son was faster than Giovanni Borsotti, Maria Pietilae-Holmner dispatched Johanna Schnarf and Hans Olsson got Massimiliano Blardone at the finish for a clean sweep worth bronze.

The U.S. squad made up of Bode Miller, Ted Ligety, Julia Mancuso and Sarah Schelper was given a bye in the first round of competition based on nations' cup standings but then was promptly excused in the quarter finals by Team Italy.

Only Miller, the nephew of former pro parallel greats Bubba and Mike Kenney, was able to win his heat against Cristian Deville. Miller grabbed his first World Cup podium of the season in a simi-lar parallel event down the road in Munich in early Janu-ary.

Despite an early exit, the American athletes enjoyed themselves as they compared notes and strategized between runs while being shuttled back to the start on four-wheel ATVs and snow machines.

"It's a really fun event, it's good to be with the guys," said Mancuso who took advantage of a few more quick laps on the GS hill but fell behind Johanna Schnarf in her heat. "It's one of those events where anything can happen so in that ways it's cool. Winning a team event is nothing like winning an indi-vidual event but it's still fun."

"I think it's a cool event, I like the format," said Ligety, the U.S. anchor man after fin-ishing 0.39 seconds behind Massimiliano Blardone. "I just made to really big mistakes and that is what cost me. It's fun to watch and fun to race but our scheduling in ski racing is so tight as it is that throwing this in the middle of a champion-ship is always hard."

Tina Maze is GS queen

Slovenian Tina Maze cashed in a bib #1 start number for the 2011 FIS Alpine World Ski Championship women's giant slalom Thursday by holding off upstart Federica Brignone of Italy and a surging Tessa Wor-ley of France.

Worley, the current Audi FIS Alpine World Cup giant slalom leader, won the second run to jump 16 places under fog and slow snow conditions to snag bronze.

Americans Julia Mancuso (Squaw Valley, CA), Sarah Schleper (Vail, CO) and Megan McJames (Park City, UT) fin-ished 16th, 21st and 34th respec-tively.

NBC Sports and Universal Sports are providing complete television coverage of worlds. is car-rying live and on-demand streaming of every race with same day coverage on its 24-hour TV network. Here is the rest of the worlds schedule:

NBC Sports broadcast schedule (Mountain Time):

Saturday, Feb. 19: 1-2 p.m.—women's slalom, highlights of men's giant slalom.

Universal Sports broad-cast schedule (all times Moun-tain Time):

Friday, Feb. 18: 9-10:30 a.m.—men's giant slalom.

Saturday, Feb. 19: 2-3 p.m.—women's slalom.

Sunday, Feb. 20: 9-10:30 a.m., men's slalom.

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