Kostelic Wengen combined victor, Bode third
Ivica Kostelic had been nearly three seconds behind after the downhill leg of the super combined, the kick-off event of the 82nd Lauberhorn at Wengen Friday (Jan. 13). It didn't matter. When they moved to the slalom hill he was in his element and it showed as he powered from the 22nd position to take and hold the lead.
Downhill winner Beat Feuz was more than three seconds back in the slalom to cinch second by a two run margin of two tenths while Bode Miller registered his third podium (in as many disciplines) of the season in third.
Ted Ligety moved from 19th in the downhill to finish sixth. Frenchman Alexis Pinturault finished up fourth and Crote Natko Zrncic-Dim fifth.
"I don't think anyone put their money on me after the downhill," Kostelic said. "I didn't expect this. ... I thought three seconds was a little too much. It was a short slalom and I think the setting was quite easy and the snow wasn't super commanding, but I actually didn't see where I played my advantage on today's race. But I had a pretty good start number, so I just had to go for it. Fortunately I can say I had one of my best runs ever."
Feuz said a mistake near the bottom of the slalom "I caught my inside ski and my confidence left me for a while," cost him the victory. Certainly his downhill run was amazingly good, and he hasn't trained much slalom all season. "In Adelboden I was forerunner for slalom so that was one run and yesterday and the day before we did a little training."
Miller called the whole day "extremely frustrating," explaining: "Slalom was miserable. It's not been going well. I had two or three runs that went well in training but from the moment I came out of the starting gate I knew it was not going to be a good day."
He said he didn't know who could possibly beat Feuz in the downhill if he skis as well as he did today. "He is really on his way. It's unbelievable how he did it. He definitely separated himself from the rest of the field today with his downhill."
Miller said his current slalom ski set up makes recovering difficult and that when he onto his inside ski and caught back, it took three or four gates to get back on line. He couldn't say enough about Feuz. "He has a great touch on the snow and he could be a four-event skier easily. You saw today - with almost no slalom training - he doesn't train slalom at all and he's still pretty dynamic on his skis."
Ligety acknowledges he doesn't have good gliding skills and it cost him, leaving him an eternity from the podium after the downhill. "My (DH) run... I mean, I made it down. I wasn't clean or very good anywhere, but I wasn't bad anywhere either."
It was the third win of the season for Kostelic and helped him cut into the lead of overall Cup leader Marcel Hirscher who stuck by early season plans and declined to race the event despite leading the tour. Ligety is now ranked fourth overall, 102pts behind Kostelic and 232 behind Hirscher.
The race was the first of four combineds on the schedule for the men.
The soft snow which drew racer complaints during mid-week training had firmed up some as temperatures dipped below freezing overnight and stayed there for the race, but the surface still deteriorated to traffic creating a big advantage for early runners in both legs.
The Swiss fans were hoping for a Swiss winner. Just two Swiss have won the Lauberhorn combined in the last 20 years. Paul Accola won in 1992 and Carlo Janka in 2009.
Racing continues at Wengen tomorrow with the downhill and a slalom is scheduled Sunday.
Gepa photos of Beat Feuz and combined podium.
by Hank McKee
Men's World Cup combined, Wengen, Switzerland, Jan. 13, 2012
1 Kostelic, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
2 Feuz, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
3 Miller, Head/Head/Head
4 Pinturault, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
5 Zrncic-Dim, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
6 Ligety, Head/Head/Head
7 Raich, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
8 Paris, Nordica/Nordica/Marker
9 Jansrud, Head/Head/Head
10 Marsaglia, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
Men's World Cup combined, Wengen, Switzerland, Jan. 13, 2012. ... It is the 17th race of the men's 45 race 2011-12 World Cup season with one cancellation (city event Munich). ... It is the first of four combineds on the men's slate. ... It is the first of three events of the 82nd annual Lauberhorn with a downhill and slalom to follow over the next two days.
It is the 21st career World Cup win for Ivica Kostelic. ... his sixth in combined and his second consecutive at Wengen having won both the combined and slalom last season. ... It is his third win of the season the other two coming in slalom at Beaver Creek and Flachau.
It is the seventh career Cup podium result for Beat Feuz. ... his first in combined. ... It is his fifth podium of the season - two in DH, two in SG - and this.
It is the 74th career Cup podium result for Bode Miller. ... his 13th in combined. ... and his ninth at Wengen and fifth at Wengen in combined having won in 2010, been second in '02 and '03 and third in '02 and today. ... It is his third podium of the season in three different disciplines.
It is the 49th career top six placing for Ted Ligety. ... his sixth in combined and third in combined at Wengen having placed fifth in '08 and '10.
Marcel Hirscher (did not race) retains the lead of the World Cup overall standings 725-595 over Kostelic. ... Ligety is third at 493. ... Miller sixth at 403pts. ... Top Canadian is Erik Guay (did not race) in 29th with 140pts. ... Austria leads the men's Nations Cup 2788-1613 for Switzerland with Italy in third with 1480pts. ... The US is fifth with 1173 and Canada 10th with 520pts.
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||FIS Points|
|19||22||421328||SVINDAL Aksel Lund||1982||NOR||1:52.75||51.92||2:44.67||17.49|
|27||14||192504||MERMILLOD BLONDIN Thomas||1984||FRA||1:55.14||51.53||2:46.67||31.43|
|35||45||30149||SIMARI BIRKNER Cristian Javier||1980||ARG||1:58.50||52.70||2:51.20||62.99|
|Disqualified 1st run|
|Did not start 2nd run|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not finish 1st run|