Beaver Creek: Americans sit 1, 3, 4 after first run of GS


Beaver Creek: Americans sit 1, 3, 4 after first run of GS{mosimage}BEAVER CREEK, COLORADO – Despite a foot of snow overnight, the first run of giant slalom at Beaver Creek is in the books, and the Americans are picking up where they left off yesterday.

Bode Miller laid down the fastest run, along with Finland’s Kalle Palander, and Daron Rahlves sits in third.

Miller said his racing style favored him because while others may be leaning over their skis to attack, he was leaning back and it helped him absorb the variable conditions. “I could deal with it,” he said.

‘I made up a lot of speed on the transitions, but overall it was an average run because it was very bumpy. I had a lot of little mistakes’ Miller said, ‘but, with the conditions, everybody had mistakes.’

“I got bounced around quite a bit, but I know I’m skiing pretty well in GS,” said Rahlves. “It was kinda dark when I came down.”

Despite smashing his hand on a gate and losing his pole halfway down his run, American veteran Erik Schlopy was fourth.

“I hit [the gate] two inches above where it was sticking out of the snow,” Schlopy said. “My hand went flying back, my pole went out of my hand, and it was painful. I think I yelled out when it happened.”

Austrian Benjamin Raich, the defending overall giant slalom champion, went out early in the first run of giant slalom. Raich bounced low almost immediately out of the start in difficult, back and forth turns, and could not climb the hill quickly enough to make the next gate. After finishing every giant slalom race last year, Raich is now 0 for 2 after DNFing in the first race of the year in Soelden.

Running seventh, Miller went for his typical thrill ride, nearly exiting the course in a similar area as Raich, but managed to recover and stay in the course. He then energized the crowd by straightening out the line, whittling away at Palander’s first-run lead, eventually tying him at the finish.

“The snow was so strange, sometimes really clean, icy turns and sometimes there were small ice, iceballs,” Palander said.

Rahlves currently sits in third, 0.28 seconds back.

Leading at the first split, Schlopy got wrapped up in a panel, losing a pole. The mistake cost him a lot of time, but he stayed on course, completing his run with one pole, and still managed fourth, tied with Hermann Maier, 0.73 off the pace.

There is some concern that Schlopy’s hand is broken, but he said it would not be checked out until later. He speculated about a fracture, or deep bone bruise, but didn’t expect it to hinder him much second run. “Once I’m in the course, it won’t bother me. It’s just a hand,” he said.

North Americans were strong across the board, with Canadian Erik Guay moving from a 35th start position to seventh, and American Dane Spencer sitting in 11th.

“It’s pretty rugged up there, the visability is bad and there’s a lot of holes,” said Spencer after his run. “[It] makes for some violent little spots where it’s easy to blow up on … but I’m happy considering the conditions.”

Everything was not roses for all the Americans during the first run. A ridge between the third and fourth gate sent racers airborne, and often off course. Ted Ligety, running all the way back in 63rd, went head over heels over the lip.

“I was going into the fourth gate, and laid it over pretty good. I tried to release it and I T-boned a big hole, caught my outside ski. It kind of made me do the splits, and I did a couple tumbles.”

Ligety said his hip was sore, but he hoped to be OK for tomorrow’s slalom.

Chip Knight said his run was “terrible top to bottom,” and he didn’t qualify for second run. Jimmy Cochran missed his run, and Jake Zamansky fell as he closed in on the finish.

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