Chamonix: Raich wins super combi; Miller 3rd; Maier protests


Chamonix: Raich wins super combi; Miller 3rd; Maier protestsCHAMONIX, France – Benjamin Raich of Austria was under the mistaken impression that the International Ski Federation was giving out crystal globes in the combined event this season. Maybe that’s why he won three of four, including the super combined at Chamonix on Friday.

‘Up to today I thought there is a globe for this discipline’ said Raich. ‘I’m a little bit sad, but you have to expect this.’

Told that the FIS World Cup committee wanted to wait until there were five combineds on the calendar before they started giving out crystal globes, Raich said they should hurry to add one more combined to the calendar in Japan in March.

Raich shared the podium with his countryman Rainer Schoenfelder and American Bode Miller, who made a big mistake in the morning’s downhill portion of the race. ‘It was a little bit hard to come out of one training run’ said Miller, who returned from vacation on Wednesday.

Miller was doing well but lost his footing near the bottom of the downhill and was teetering on one leg when he went into a compression. ‘I went into that on one ski, got compressed and shot out of that, way up too the right by the Milka banners, and sort of landed out in the powder a bit’ he said.

Ted Ligety had the fastest slalom run of the day, and finished 10th in the race. ‘It didn’t feel very good’ said the 2004 Sprint/Ski Racing Junior of the Year. ‘It was bumpy and dark the whole way. You looked out the start gate and it looked pretty smooth but you got over the roll where it got a bit steeper and there was some big chop in there in the shadows.’

Ligety tore through the lone slalom run to move up 23 places with a total time of 2:38.11. Scott Macartney, fourth in the DH run, finished 32nd while Justin Johnson, 17th in DH, was 35th.

‘Mr. Ligety put on another clinic in slalom, handed it to Benni while he started 20 or 25 places back of him and the course was chewed up a little more. He is so much fun to watch in slalom’ U.S. coach John McBride said.

Steve Nyman was fifth in the downhill but hiked in the slalom, once his favorite event. ‘I never train it now’ he said. ‘It was frustrating, but I hiked for my mom, who is here to see me … I’m pleased with my downhill though, and I’ll link it all together tomorrow.’

The downhill began at 11 a.m. and was followed by the slalom at 2 p.m. In an unusual arrangement, inspection for both runs took place in back-to-back inspections sessions beginning at 8 a.m. and 9:15.

There were 66 skiers on the start list, an extremely high number that pleases the International Ski Federation, which hopes to boost the number of combined-event skiers.

But it appeared that many of those athletes were merely racing to get a third training run for Saturday’s downhill. Some 64 racers finished the downhill portion, but only 49 started the afternoon’s slalom portion. Among those skipping out were Daron Rahlves, Ambrosi Hoffmann, Bruno Kernen and Hermann Maier – the later choosing not to start in protest.

The downhill portion of Friday’s race started lower on the mountain than Saturday’s race will. Friday’s race was 2,850 meters long and started at 1,763 meters’ altitude; Saturday’s race will be 3,380 meters long and start at 1,870 meters altitude.

There were two training runs earlier this week – the fastest skiers were Marco Buechel on Wednesday and Michael Walchhofer of Austria on Thursday.

In January 2004, Miller came here for that year’s downhill and slalom, which also counted as a combined event. He was eighth in the downhill despite hitting a compression and banging his chin on his knee, chipping teeth and, he said, temporarily blacking out at high speed. He was third in the slalom and won the combined.

Miller’s historic consecutive-race streak came to an end last week at 136. He went to Dubai for a golfing vacation with his brother, Chelone, and missed the Garmisch downhill and super G (which would have been his 137th and 138th straight races). Miller returned from vacation Wednesday to finish 22nd in the training run and to attend a politically correct press gathering for his primary sponsor.

This was the third of three super combined races on the men’s calendar this year, the previous two being at Val d’Isere on Dec. 11 and at Wengen on Jan. 13. There was also a regular combined as part of the Kitzbuehel weekend.

The winner at Val d’Isere was Walchhofer, and at both Wengen and Kitzbuehel the winner was Raich, who is the current men’s World Cup points leader. Last year, Raich won the men’s slalom title. Raich also won the men’s GS title, stealing that globe from the previous year’s titlist, Miller.

The men will race that downhill tomorrow, and then the World Cup takes a break until March 4 and 5, when there will be two giant slaloms in Yong Pyong, South Korea – a pair of races that will mark the return of Dane Spencer.

In between now and then are the Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy.

A bit of downhill game theory
Saturday is the men’s downhill at Chamonix. The race is absolutely crucial for American Daron Rahlves if he wants to achieve his goal of winning the World Cup downhill title. Rahlves is currently third in the standings, with 408 points (he trails Michael Walchhofer’s 498 points and Fritz Strobl’s 441).

If Walchhofer wins Saturday’s race, he eliminates Rahlves from contention, even if Rahlves finishes second (Walchhofer would have 598 points to Rahlves’s 488 – an insurmountable difference with only one race left).

By the same token, if Walchhofer finishes third, and Rahlves finishes fourth, it’s all over. Walchhofer would then lead 558 to 453, so even if Rahlves could win the final downhill, scoring 100 points, Walchhofer could skip it and still be leading Rahlves.

On the other hand, if Rahlves were to win the race, and Walchhofer to finish 19th, Rahlves would have 508 points and Walchhofer would have 510 going into the final race at Are, Sweden, on March 15.

None of these calculations, of course, take into account the Strobl factor. If Strobl wins on Saturday and Walchhofer is second, both stay in the race but eliminate Rahlves from title contention.

Men’s super combined
Chamonix, France
Feb. 3, 2006

1. Benjamin Raich, AUT 2:36.48
2. Rainer Schoenfelder, AUT 2:37.31
3. Bode Miller, USA 2:37.47
4. Michael Walchhofer, AUT 2:37.60
4. Didier Defago, SUI 2:37.60
6. Andrej Sporn, SLO 2:37.64
7. Pierrick Bourgeat, FRA 2:37.78
8. Kjetil Andre Aamodt, NOR 2:37.82
9. Silvan Zurbriggen, SUI 2:37.98
10. Ted Ligety, USA 2:38.11
11. Andrej Jerman, SLO 2:38.41
12. Markus Larsson, SWE 2:38.52
13. Lasse Kjus, NOR 2:38.61
14. Jono Brauer, AUS 2:38.78
15. John Kucera, CAN 2:38.82
16. Aksel Lund Svindal, NOR 2:38.83
17. Hans Olsson, SWE 2:38.92
18. Werner Heel, ITA 2:39.08
1
9. Ondrej Bank, CZE 2:39.67
20. Patrick Staudacher, ITA 2:39.96
21. Manuel Osborne-Paradis, CAN 2:39.98
22. Ivica Kostelic, CRO 2:39.99
22. Lars Myhre, NOR 2:39.99
24. Bjarne Solbakken, NOR 2:40.35
25. Ryan Semple, CAN 2:40.48
26. Kjetil Jansrud, NOR 2:40.50
27. Pierre Paquin, FRA 2:40.54
28. Marc Bottollier-Lasquin, FRA 2:40.78
29. Rok Perko, SLO 2:41.06
30. Daniel Albrecht, SUI 2:41.25
Other North Americans:
32. Scott Macartney, USA 2:41.91
35. Justin Johnson, USA 2:43.27
39. Steven Nyman, USA 3:09.54
DNS DH:Marco Sullivan, USA.
DNS SL: Daron Rahlves, USA.
DNF SL: Francois Bourgeat, CAN

THE SCOOP

By Hank McKee

Equipment
Men’s super combined, Chamonix, Feb. 3, 2006

Skier, skis/boots/bindings
1. Raich, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
2. Schoenfelder, Fischer/Nordica/Fischer
3. Miller, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
4. Walchhofer, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
4. Defago, Rossignol/Lange/Rossignol
6. Sporn, Elan//
7. Bourgeat, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
8. Aamodt, Dynastar/Lange/Tyrolia
9. Zurbriggen, Fischer/Lange/Tyrolia
10. Ligety, Volkl/Nordica/Marker

Men’s super combined, Chamonix, France, Feb. 3, 2006. … It is the 29th event of the men’s 34 race, four combined World Cup schedule. … It is the fourth and final combined. …It is the seventh World Cup combined held at least in part at Chamonix.

It is the 21st career win for Benjamin Raich. … He is fourth on the all-time win list among Austrian men behind Hermann Maier (53), Stephan Eberharter (29) and Franz Klammer (26). … It is his fourth career combined win. … And third of the season, having previously won combineds at Wengen and Kitzbuehel. … He also won Wengen last season.

It is the 19th career podium for Rainer Schoenfelder, … 16 of those podiums have come in slalom. … This is the second combined podium of his career and the season, having also placed second at Val d’Isere.

It is the 45th career podium for Bode Miller. … His seventh in combined. … It is his sixth podium of the season. … And third in combined, having also placed second at Kitzbuehel and third at Val d’Isere. … Miller won the last combined at Chamonix Jan 11, 2004.

It is the 10th career top 10 for Ted Ligety. … His ninth of the season. … It is his second career combined podium, the previous at Val d’Isere earlier this season. … He, Miller and Steven Nyman (39th in event) are the only American men to claim top-10 results in combined this season.

It is the 11th career scoring result for John Kucera and matches his second-best career placing from earlier this season in the Val d’Isere combined. … It is the 10th career scoring result for Manuel Osborne-Paradis. … His fifth this season. … It is his first career scoring result in combined. … It is the sixth career scoring result for Ryan Semple. … His third in combined. … And second in combined this season. … He was 21st at Wengen.

Benjamin Raich strengthens his hold on the men’s World Cup overall standings 1,065-820 over Michael Walchhofer (fourth in event). … Bode Miller is third with 748 points. … Raich wins the combined title 345-200 over Miller and Walchhofer, tied in second. … Rainer Schoenfelder finishes fourth at 182. … Winning margin is .83 of a second. … First three skiers are within a second. … Top 11 within two seconds.

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