Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Ligety climbs into third place on World Cup

Park City’s Ted Ligety, 27, is the reigning World Cup and world giant slalom champion. Photo by U.S. Ski Team

The pre-Christmas portion of the 2011-12 Audi FIS World Cup wrapped up this week for the world's top alpine racers.

There were weather issues at Courchevel, Fra. where three feet of snow forced the cancellation of the women's giant slalom and produced soft race conditions for Sunday's slalom.

Nevertheless the U.S. Ski Team racers continued their recent successes on the podium. The Americans have two men and two women in the top six of the overall standings.

Friday, Olympic champion and two-time Audi FIS Alpine World Cup overall winner Bode Miller, 34, of Franconia, N.H. battled a shortened Val Gardena super giant slalom to finish second behind Swiss young gun Beat Feuz.

It was Miller's third super G podium at the Italian resort after winning the 2006 race and taking second in 2007. Miller, who won the Audi Birds of Prey downhill two weeks ago, posted his 73rd career World Cup podium.

Olympic super G bronze medalist Andrew Weibrecht, 25, of Lake Placid, N.Y. was 20th as Wiley Maple, 21, of Aspen, Colo. scored the first World Cup points of his career with 29th.

On Saturday, gusty winds forced the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup jury to cancel the 50th running of the famed Saslong Classic men's downhill in Val Gardena.

A brief course hold was put in place after the 17th starter followed by an extended 36-minute hold as winds swirled around the 2.2-mile course. Three more racers were allowed to start before the race was canceled following bib 21 with Bode Miller in the gate.

Austria's reigning World Cup slalom queen Marlies Schild resumed her slalom dominance Sunday by winning in snowy Courchevel by a staggering 1.87 seconds over Finn Tanja Poutianen.

Olympic downhill champion Lindsey Vonn, 27, of Vail, Colo. went out in the first run, yet retained her 236-point lead in the early World Cup overall standings as defending overall winner Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany failed to finish the second run.

The women's tour was set for night slalom Tuesday, Dec. 20 at Flachau, Austria.

In Italy Sunday, reigning World Cup and world giant slalom champion Ted Ligety, 27, of Park City, Utah fell .01 short of the Alta Badia giant slalom podium after finishing fourth behind Italian winner Massimiliano Blardone.

Ligety, who led after the first run by .49 seconds, retained the discipline lead 330-265 over Austrian Marcel Hirscher, who finished fifth on the day. Ligety has now finished 1-2-1-4 in the first four of nine scheduled GS races this season.

On Monday, Ligety was 10th in slalom Monday at Alta Badia as Austrian rival and good friend Marcel Hirscher won to move into the World Cup slalom (160 points) and overall lead (by 9 points).

It was Ligety's second slalom top 10 of the season. The result lands Ligety into third place in the overall standings going into a night slalom Wednesday, Dec. 21 in Flachau, Austria.

Here are the top Audi FIS World Cup standings and leading Americans:

Men: 1—Marcel Hirscher (Aust.) 425 points. 2—Aksel Lund Svindal (Nor.) 416. 3—Ted Ligety (USA) 385. 4—Beat Feux (Switz.) 360. 6—Bode Miller (USA) 298. Miller is tied for second in DH standings with 129 points apiece, Feux leading the way with 160. Ligety is the GS leader by 65 points with 330, and 12th in slalom with 46.

Women: 1—Lindsey Vonn (USA) 522 points. 2—Viktoria Rebensburg (Germ.) 286. 3—Elisabeth Goergl (Aust.) 269. 4—Anna Fenninger (Aust.) 263. 6—Julia Mancuso (USA) 201.

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