By Hank McKee
Apparently it was a good decision.
Last December French slalom star Jean-Baptiste Grange elected against toughing it out and going for the 2010 Olympics after damaging a ligament in his right knee in a no-fall event during the Beaver Creek giant slalom. He called his season instead and had corrective surgery. Today (Nov. 14) that paid off with a win in the first Men’s World Cup race of the season, a slalom at Levi, Finland. It was his second win at Levi. Last time he wound up winning the World Cup slalom title.
Swede Andre Myhrer was second, his sixth Cup slalom podium, and Croate Ivica Kostelic notched his 34th career Cup podium in third.
It was a good day for ski racing, cloudy but with Arctic light that hardly mattered anyway. No wind and temps below the freezing mark without bitterness. But snow conditions generally described as “grippy” played a significant role catching racers not yet necessarily completely comfortable familiar with their ski set-ups for the season.
The Levi Black course took a toll on the first run with 31 of 80 starters, including seven first seed racers, failing to finish.
“There was a lot going up there,” said U.S. technical coach Mike Day. “There’s a lot of terrain and it was a tough course set-up.”
First run casualties included two previous Levi winners, Benjamin Raich and Reinfried Herbst plus Austrian teammate Marcel Hirscher. Canadian Mike Janyk went down, American Bode Miller hiked after a hip plant and Nolan Kasper went down. Ted Ligety held on to make it to the second run, but well back in the pack. “He ran into the same trap as a majority if the guys going out there,” said Day. “He had a better second run, got a solid result and didn’t do any damage.”
The U.S. highlight was 23 year old Will Brandenburg – Ski Racing’s Jr of the Year 2007 – who stunned unsuspecting viewers when he charged to eighth place after the first run from the 35th start. He couldn’t complete the second run and failed to garner his first Cup points, but his speed was noteworthy.
“He didn’t get into any trouble at all,” said Day. “It was just an unfortunate straddle. He had a good line, was skiing solid. It’s what happens in slalom. He’s shown he’s got world class speed and will make himself into the 30 and 15 with good luck.”
The Canadians fared a bit better with Julien Cousineau taking up eighth in the final tally. Brad Spence finished 16th, two places ahead of Ligety, with Trevor White one spot behind Ligety in 19th. Patrick Biggs got in the points in 22nd place from the 45th start, giving Canada four scoring skiers.
Cousineau showed evidence of being pleased with his race, the third best of his career with the best two having come last season. He fired his index fingers like a gun in the finish area.
“I feel really good about this race,” he said. “I didn’t really know what to expect because we hadn’t skied with the other nations so far this year. … I’m happy because I started off exactly where I left off last season, so it’s a good start for me.”
By Hank McKee
Men’s slalom, Levi, Finland, Nov. 14, 2010
1 Grange, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
2 Myhrer, Nordica/Nordica/
3 Kostelic, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
4 DeVille, Volkl/Tecnica/Marker
5 Pranger, Volkl/Tecnica/Marker
6 Zurbriggen, Rossignol/Lange/Rossignol
7 Moelgg, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
8 Cousineau, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
9 Gini, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
10 Lizeroux, Dynastar/Lange/Look
Men’s World Cup slalom, Levi, Finland, Nov. 14, 2010. … It is the first men’s race of the season after the cancelation of the GS at Soelden last month after the first run. … There were 38 races on the men’s 2010-11 schedule. … It is the first of ten men’s slaloms. … It is the 12th Cup race at Levi, all slaloms, and the fourth men’s race on the Levi Black course. … All three previous men’s winners (Benjamin Raich 11/12/06, Jean-Baptiste Grange 11/16/08 and Reinfried Herbst 11/15/09) have gone on to win the slalom title the same season.
It is the seventh career World Cup win (6th in slalom) for Jean-Baptiste Grange, his first since Jan. 6, 2009 at Zagreb. … It is his second win at Levi having also won Nov. 16, 2008. … He called his 2010 season after sustaining right knee ligament damage at Beaver Creek in GS Dec. 6.
It is the sixth World Cup podium for Andre Myhrer, all in slalom. … It is his first podium at Levi his previous best at the site a sixth in 2008.
It is the 34th career World Cup podium for Ivica Kostelic. … his 26th in slalom and his second at Levi having been second last season.
It is the third best Cup result for Julien Cousineau’s career. … The two better both came in slalom last season, a fifth at Schladming and sixth at Garmisch. … It is the fourth best career Cup result for Brad Spence. … his best is 12th scored twice. … His first Cup score came in March 2009. … 18th matches Ted Ligety’s best previous result at Levi. … It is the fifth Cup scoring result – all in slalom – for Trevor White. … He has now scored twice at two sites, Levi and Kitzbuehel. … It is the 12th best of 15 scoring results for Patrick Biggs. … Canadian men put four into the points in three slaloms last season, at Kitzbuehel, Zagreb, and Alta Badia.
France leads the men’s Nations Cup rankings with 165pts over Sweden with 140 and Italy with 86. Canada sits fifth at 68. … The US is tenth with 13pts.
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||FIS Points|
|21||63||192504||MERMILLOD BLONDIN Thomas||1984||FRA||54.45||55.56||1:50.01||19.28|
|28||55||421669||HAUGEN Leif Kristian||1987||NOR||54.38||1:13.42||2:07.80||121.04|
|Disqualified 1st run|
|Did not qualify 1st run|
|19||421400||MYHRE Lars Elton||1984||NOR|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|59||193967||MUFFAT JEANDET Victor||1989||FRA|