March 18, 2006
ARE, Sweden (USST Press Release)—Olympic combined champion Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) had the fastest second run of slalom in the rain Saturday at World Cup Finals and finished ninth overall for the season, giving the U.S. Ski Team three men in the top 10 for the first time.
Markus Larsson of Sweden won the race when first-run leader Giorgio Rocca of Italy, assured of the slalom title because former SL world champion Kalle Palander of Finland injured knee ligaments Friday in giant slalom and didn't race Saturday, missed a gate on his final run. The winning time was 1:41.35. Bode Miller (Bretton Woods, NH), the only other U.S. skier, missed a gate on the second run.
In the first run, Ligety missed a gate but hiked back onto the course to get a finish, keeping alive hopes for the historic footnote; U.S. women have had three in the top 10 twice (1982, '83). He blazed through the fastest final run but it only lifted him to 16th place and points are awarded only to the top 15 at World Cup Finals, so he needed help to stay in the top 10 overall.
When Rocca - 12th to start the day - went out, it meant he wouldn't go past Ligety. And Liechtenstein's Marco Buechel, No. 10, and No. 11 Fritz Strobl of Austria don't run slalom, so they didn't move up (Buechel was only 10 points back of Ligety and Strobl just 37 back). Canadian Thomas Grandi, starting the day No. 13 at 559, finished third - worth 60 points, but only enough to leapfrog over Rocca and Strobl for 11th overall.
U.S. women have had three in the final top 10 twice (1982 and '83) while, until this season, U.S. men have had two men in the final top 10 six times, including the last three winters with Miller and Daron Rahlves (Sugar Bowl, CA).
Benjamin Raich of Austria, who skied out in the first run Saturday, succeeded Miller as overall champion with 1,410 points. Miller finished third overall (928) with Rahlves fourth (903) and Ligety ninth (636).
"That's pretty cool on a day that's been totally un-cool, said U.S. Head Coach Phil McNichol. "Ted stayed in there and then he won the second run, which was outstanding. And Bode skied pretty well but got nothing for it. He got about halfway down that final run before he missed that gate...but it was such a miserable day. Rainy, slushy, miserable.
"It was not a fun day out there. It wasn't cold, and we dressed properly, but it just wasn't anything good about it.
The World Cup season concludes Sunday with the team event - up to six skiers, no more than four of one gender, and two male and two female skiers running super G and slalom. [pagebreak]MEN'S ALPINE WORLD CUP
World Cup Finals
Are, SWE - March 18, 2006
1. Markus Larsson, Sweden, 1:41.35
2. Stephane Tissot, France, 1:42.17
3. Thomas Grandi, Canada, 1:42.28
4. Ivica Kostelic, Croatia, 1:42.31
5. Pierrick Bourgeat, France, 1:42.34
16. Ted Ligety, Park City, Utah, 1:46.97
Bode Miller, Bretton Woods, N.H.
For complete results: