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Kitzbuehel: Vidal tops in slalom for first World Cup win in five years

Kitzbuehel: Vidal tops in slalom for first World Cup win in five yearsKITZBUEHEL, Austria – They hadn’t fired up the Marseillaise in the finish area of the Ganslern course since 1973, but that changed on Sunday, when Jean-Pierre Vidal of France climbed the podium at the Kitzbuehel slalom.

The last time they played the French national anthem, it might have been on vinyl. That was 1973, and the winner was Jean Noel Augert – who happens to be an uncle of Vidal.

‘This is the result of very, very hard work’ said Vidal, who had slumped hard since winning the slalom gold at the Olympic Winter Games in 2002. ‘In order to win you have to learn how to lose. In hard times I never gave up.’

Vidal, who is planning to retire at the end of the year, hopes to race in the top seven now, which he calls ‘a big advantage in the Olympics.’

The race capped off a busy and exciting week for the men’s World Cup (and for Skiracing.com check out our special complete coverage).

The five-slalom victory streak of Giorgio Rocca of Italy came to an end as ‘the Policeman of Livigno’ slid out on the first run, which was held in a light snowfall. Rocca lost his footing over one of the Ganslern course’s many pieces of terrain and went down on his side before hiking. ‘This sport, slalom is so difficult, and a mistake is possible, and I’m not the Terminator’ said Rocca.

Vidal won in 1 minute, 38.88 seconds, with Reinfried Herbst of Austria 0.36 behind. Herbst fought his way back onto the Austrian team last year. Benni Raich of Austria rode his third-place finish in the slalom to take the Hahnenkamm combined trophy.

Bode Miller, who is considering skipping World Cup races later this week, finished second in the combined calculation on the basis of his fourth-place in Saturday’s downhill and 18th place in Sunday’s slalom.

Ted Ligety, the 2004 Sprint/Ski Racing Junior of the Year, finished sixth in the day’s World Cup slalom, disappointed to have skied conservatively after watching 29 competitors blow out on the first run.

‘It was really bumpy, and one of the worst courses of the year’ said Ligety of Sepp Brunner’s course setting. ‘It was stupid. Too many combinations, no rhythm. A horrible set. I saw a lot of guys go out while I was up there in the start, so I decided to just get down.’

Chip Knight was 20th, a boost for the Vermonter, who was looking to qualify for the Olympic Winter Games in his specialty event. Knight was 17th at Adelboden, Switzerland, two weeks ago, and now needs a third top-20 to qualify for the Olympics on the U.S. Ski Team’s objective criteria.

‘It’s my best result ever here, and this is a tough hill’ said Knight. ‘It would be nice to have another result to go with it, but I’m just going to try to ski well, but we’ll see about the Olympics after Schladming.’

That race is on Tuesday night, as the World Cup moves across Austria to Schladming for the annual night slalom. The U.S. Ski Team will name its Olympic squad on Wednesday in Las Vegas. The women’s World Cup, which concluded its competition today in St. Moritz, Switzerland, moves on to Cortina, Italy – the Kitzbuehel of the women’s calendar.

Norway’s combined masters Lasse Kjus and Kjetil Andre Aamodt did not race. Kjus has gone home to deal with his chronic asthma and Aamodt left Kitzbuehel on Friday to be at the side of his wife, who gave birth to a baby girl that night.

The board of the Kitzbueheler Ski Club presented 520,000 Euros to racers over the course of the weekend, with 65,000 going to the winners of the downhill and slalom (Micki Walchhofer and J.P. Vidal). Following the lead of Zagreb, they paid all the way down to the 30th position in each race.

This was the sixth of 10 slaloms on the men’s calendar this season. The previous five, all won by Rocca, were at Beaver Creek, Colorado (Dec. 4), Madonna di Campiglio, Italy (Dec. 12), Kranjska Gora, Slovenia (Dec. 22), Adelboden, Switzerland, and Wengen, Switzerland (Jan. 8.). The next four are at Schladming, Austria (a night race on Tuesday); Shigakogen, Japan (two races on March 10 and 11); and Are, Sweden (at Finals, March 19).

Forty-four years and counting
No American man has ever won a World Cup slalom at Kitzbuehel, but in 1962 (the pre-World Cup era) American Chuck Ferries beat out France’s Guy Perillat and Austria’s Pepi Stiegler before a crowd of 20,000. Ferries is now a U.S. Ski Team trustee.

 In 1962, wearing leather boots, a sweater and no helmet, goggles or cap, Ferries jumped from eighth after the first run to win the Kitzbuehel slalom. There were 114 racers in the slalom that day (Jan. 21). Among them was the Prince Karim Aga Khan, who started for Great Britain.

Like all Kitzbuehel winners, Ferries has been honored by having his name and his nation’s flag pasted on one of the cars of the Hahnenkammbahn gondola.

‘It’s magic that I will have my name on the gondola’ said Sunday’ winner, Vidal.

Ligety loves Volkl and Volkl loves him right back
‘He is very young and he has big potential in a few disciplines. I hope he is going to stay on our product. I think he likes it.’

- Bernhard Knauss of Austria, race director for Volkl

 ‘These grip on ice better than any company, for the most part.’

- Ted Ligety of the United States, second-best slalom skier in the world

How it went for the rest of the Americans
The rest of the American team fared poorly on Sunday. Tom Rothrock failed to qualify for the second run, as did Roger Brown. Jimmy Cochran and Erik Schlopy did not finish the first run. Steve Nyman raced both runs because he was included in the combined calculation, but he would not have gotten to race both runs if he’d been entered in just the slalom. He was sixth in the combined standings.

‘We’re going to train near Schladming on one of two slopes which are injected’ said Mike Morin, the head tech coach for the U.S. men’s team. ‘Just a couple guys. We’ll work out a few kinks. Then the tech guys all go home, except Ted, who is off in Europe for a few days and then goes to Chamonix.’

OLN will televise World Cup race coverage today at 5 p.m. ET as part of its ongoing “10 Weeks to Torino” coverage with a re-air Tuesday at 5 p.m. ET.

66th Hahnenkamm

Men’s slalom
Kitzbuehel, Austria
Jan. 22, 2006

1. Jean-Pierre Vidal, FRA       1:38.88
2. Reinfried Herbst, AUT        1:39.24
3. Benjamin Raich, AUT  1:39.38
4. Stephane Tissot, FRA 1:39.64
5. Rainer Schoenfelder, AUT     1:39.92
6. Ted Ligety, USA      1:40.15
7. Kalle Palander, FIN  1:40.17
8. Thomas Grandi, CAN   1:40.18
9. Markus Larsson, SWE  1:40.25
10. Jean-Baptiste Grange, FRA   1:40.31
11. Manfred Moelgg, ITA 1:40.57
12. Kentaro Minagawa, JPN       1:40.59
13. Martin Marinac, AUT 1:40.66
14. Johan Brolenius, SWE        1:40.86
15. Akira Sasaki, JPN   1:40.86
16. Alois Vogl, GER     1:40.87
17. Ivica Kostelic, CRO 1:40.91
18. Bode Miller, USA    1:40.95
19. Daniel Albrecht, SUI        1:41.07
20. Chip Knight, USA    1:41
.10
21. Marc Gini, SUI      1:41.15
22. Jure Kosir, SLO     1:41.39
23. Cristian Deville, ITA       1:41.40
23. Bernard Vajdic, SLO 1:41.40
25. Felix Neureuther, GER       1:41.51
26. Aksel Lund Svindal, NOR     1:41.57
27. Lars Myhre, NOR     1:41.60
28. Giancarlo Bergamelli, ITA   1:43.06
Other North Americans:
DNQ 2nd: Patrick Biggs, Francois Bourque, CAN; Tom Rothrock, Steven Nyman, Roger Brown, USA.
DNF 1st: Michael Janyk, Jean-Philippe Roy, Paul Stutz, CAN; James Cochran, Erik Schlopy, USA

Men’s combined
Kitzbuehel, Austria
Jan. 21-22, 2006

1. Benjamin Raich, AUT  3:27.38
2. Bode Miller, USA     3:28.08
3. Aksel Lund Svindal, NOR      3:30.92
4. Peter Fill, ITA      3:33.28
5. Andrej Sporn, SLO    3:36.84
6. Steven Nyman, USA    3:37.28
7. Bruno Kernen, SUI    3:38.11
8. Alexandr Horoshilov, RUS     3:40.09
9. Francois Bourque, CAN        3:40.42
10. Ambrosi Hoffmann, SUI       3:41.61
No additional North Americans.

THE SCOOP

By Hank McKee

Equipment
Men’s slalom, Kitzbuehel, Jan. 22, 2006

Skier, skis/boots/bindings
1. Vidal, Dynastar/Lange/Look
2. Herbst, Head/Lange/Tyrolia
3. Raich, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
4. Tissot, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
5. Schoenfelder, Fischer/Nordica/Fischer
6. Ligety, Volkl/Nordica/Marker
7. Palander, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
8. Grandi, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
9. Larsson, Fischer/Nordica/Fischer
10. Grange, Rossignol//

Men’s combined, Kitzbuehel, Jan. 21-22, 2006
Skier, skis/boots/bindings
1. Raich, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
2. Miller, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
3. Svindal, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
4. Fill, Dynastar/Lange/Look
5. Sporn, Elan//
6. Nyman, Fischer/Nordica/Marker
7. Kernen, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
8. Horoshilov, Salomon//
9. Bourque, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
10. Hoffmann, Stoeckli/Atomic/Atomic

Men’s slalom and combined, Kitzbuehel, Austria, Jan. 22, 2006. … It is the 24th race and third combined of the men’s 34 race, 4 combined World Cup schedule. … The slalom is the sixth of 10 scheduled men’s slaloms. … The combined is the third of four scheduled. … The events culminate the 66th annual Hahnenkamm at Kitzbuehel.

It is the second career win for Jean-Pierre Vidal. … The first was in slalom at Kranjska Gora Dec. 22, 2001. … That was the last slalom win for any French male. … He had not been on a World Cup podium since Jan. 5, 2003, also at Kranjska Gora. … He had been fourth at Adelboden’s slalom earlier this season (Jan. 8). … It is the first Cup win for a French male since Antoine Deneriaz won the Val Gardena DH Dec. 20, 2003.

It is the first career podium for Renfried Herbst. … His previous best a sixth at Wengen’s slalom a week ago. … His top five results have all come this season and all in slalom.

It is the 52nd (and 53rd) career podium for Benjamin Raich. … His eighth of the season. … He has 26 career slalom podiums. … Three in slalom.

It is the sixth career top-six result for Ted Ligety. … All of them this season. … It is the 20th career top eight for Thomas Grandi. … It is his fifth-best result of the season, third-best in slalom. … It is the 15th completed race of the season for Bode Miller and second completed slalom. … It is the 25th career scoring result for Chip Knight, his third of the season and second in slalom.

The combined is the 20th career win for Benjamin Raich. … His fourth of the season. … His second of the season in  combined. … He is seventh all time on the Austrian victory list. … The fourth male behind Hermann Maier (52), Stephan Eberharter (29) and Franz Klammer (26). … He was 10th in the DH and third in SL.

It is the 44th career podium for Bode Miller. … His fifth of the season. … It is his sixth career combined podium in seven completed combineds. … It is his second combined podium of the season. … He was fourth in the DH and 18th in SL.

It is the third career podium for Aksel Lund Svindal. … His second of the season. … It is his second podium in combined.

It is a career-best World Cup placing, and ninth scoring result, for Steven Nyman. … His best previous a 14th at Lake Louise DH Nov. 26 this season. … It is the fifth career top 10 for Francois Bourque, fourth of the season. … It is his first combined score.

Raich maintains the lead in the World Cup overall standings 892-704 over Michael Walchhofer (1st run DSQ). … Daron Rahlves (did not race) is third at 689 and Bode Miller fourth at 688. … Giorgio Rocca (did not qualify for second run) leads the World Cup slalom standings 500-325 over Ligety. … Kalle Palander (seventh in race) is third at 466. … Raich leads the combined standings 245-150 over Walchhofer. … Peter Fill (fourth in event) is third at 142 and Bode Miller fourth at 140.

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