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Kranjska Gora: Rocca stays perfect in slalom, USA's Ligety 3rd


Kranjska Gora: Rocca stays perfect in slalom, USA’s Ligety 3rd{mosimage}KRANJSKA GORA, Slovenia – American Ted Ligety snared his second podium of the season Thursday, finishing third with Jimmy Cochran coming out of 61st start to finish 15th in choppy conditions.

Italy’s Giorgio Rocca stayed unbeaten this season in slalom, winning his third straight while Bode Miller failed to reach the second run and surrendered his overall World Cup lead.

“Our young bucks not only stood up but they grabbed the flag and waved it all through that second run,” slalom and GS head coach Mike Morin said. “This one was a very special Christmas present … very tasty, for sure.”

Rocca was third in the first run and cruised to the win after first-run leader Benjamin Raich of Austria, known for finishing his races, skied off-course while leading by .76 at the midpoint. Rocca’s winning time was 1:35.98 with Canadian Thomas Grandi — third Wednesday in giant slalom — finishing second in 1:36.62.

Ligety, third Dec. 4 in the opening slalom of the season — and racing on the course where he picked up his first World Cup points (23rd in SL during the ’04 season), stayed in second place in the SL points behind Rocca as he finished with a time of 1:36.65.

Cochran, who was seventh 24 hours earlier in the GS, ignored the tough conditions for the back of the pack in his first run and came down 30th; first guy out to open the final run, he stormed down the hill to finish 15th with a time of 1:37.90.

Miller finished out of the top 30 in the first run and watched Norwegian Aksel Lund Svindal retake the overall points lead when he finished 18th. After 15 races, Svindal leads with 450 points to 442 for Miller, 430 for Raich.

‘I like this hill; it suits me pretty well and it’s cool to put down a good run here’ Ligety said. ‘It’s so nice to have confidence every race. When I get into the start gate in slalom, I know I can be top 10 even with a little mistake.

‘I held back on the top of the first run and I was mad at myself between runs because I was watching other guys going, and I knew I’d held back, so second run I wanted to break through and give her hell. And it’s so good Jimmy got some points; he’s had some bad luck, so this was pretty sweet.’

Cochran laughed as he was asked about an early Christmas present. “Oh no, I said that [Wednesday after GS with his first World Cup top 10], so this is like finding another present. It was so much fun. I’m really psyched.”

He didn’t pay attention to his late start, Cochran said, and the varying course conditions for his run. “You have to accept that and ski accordingly; be aware of what’s going on,” he said.

After the GS, U.S. coaches said Cochran had been on a roll since finishing second in a Europa Cup slalom Dec. 13 in Alta Badia, Italy. Head coach Phil McNichol, pointing to Cochran’s first World Cup top-10 result, predicted, “Jimmy’s about to start laying down more top 10s and top 15s; it’s like that Europa Cup race triggered something for him.”

“Jimmy’s found his rhythm, his timing, his balance — and he’s had all of it every run since that second in Alta Badia,” Morin added Thursday. “He was so perfectly balanced, despite the conditions in that first run and then he just gave her the gun to start the final run.

‘He and Ted really stood tall today … and if we can get Paul McDonald [rehabbing a back injury] healthy and skiing where he can ski, and Steve Nyman keeps improving … oh boy …’

Cochran, who took leave from the University of Vermont after the 2003 season to join the U.S. Ski Team, agreed with his coach’s assessment of his runs. “They did a good job preparing that first run, despite the conditions — they’ll always be chopped up that far back — but the course crew really slipped the course beautifully and dished out everything. And then second, it was perfect…

McNichol: ‘They’re the real deal’

“Yeah, that Europa Cup race was a great confidence boost. Y’know, slalom is so precise and so finicky, but once you get dialed in, you can just go … just run,” Cochran said.

McNichol said, ‘Rocca made that second run look like he was freeskiing, just so easy. You had to wonder, ‘Can it be that easy?’ But, I’ll tell you, Ted Ligety and Jimmy Cochran did themselves proud. Ted’s become so smart in his skiing — he backed off a bit, I thought, to get that first run in there, and then he was full gas on the second run and even with a mistake, he stayed in there. And Jimmy doing what we’ve all known he would be doing, and it’s beautiful to watch.

The men’s tour resumes Dec. 29 with the annual downhill in Bormio, Italy, and then moves to a GS and slalom Jan. 7-8 in Adelboden, Switzerland. OLN will continue its World Cup coverage as part of its “10 Weeks to Torino” series Sunday at 5 ET.

Men’s slalom
Kranjska Gora, Slovenia
Dec. 22, 2005

1. Giorgio Rocca, ITA 1:35.98
2. Thomas Grandi, CAN 1:36.62
3. Ted Ligety, USA 1:36.65
4. Rainer Schoenfelder, AUT 1:37.06
5. Kalle Palander, FIN 1:37.19
6. Johan Brolenius, SWE 1:37.54
7. Naoki Yuasa, JPN 1:37.59
8. Manfred Pranger, AUT 1:37.61
9. Martin Hansson, SWE 1:37.64
9. Jean-Pierre Vidal, FRA 1:37.64
11. Andre Myhrer, SWE 1:37.67
12. Drago Grubelnik, SLO 1:37.77
13. Kjetil Jansrud, NOR 1:37.78
14. Akira Sasaki, JPN 1:37.87
15. James Cochran, USA 1:37.90
16. Manfred Moelgg, ITA 1:37.98
17. Markus Larsson, SWE 1:38.21
18. Aksel Lund Svindal, NOR 1:38.27
19. Pierrick Bourgeat, FRA 1:38.28
20. Felix Neureuther, GER 1:38.31
21. Bernard Vajdic, SLO 1:38.45
22. Filip Trejbal, CZE 1:38.48
23. Stephane Tissot, FRA 1:38.49
24. Alex Gorza, USA 1:38.74
25. Reinfried Herbst, AUT 1:38.76
26. Michael Janyk, CAN 1:48.07
27. Mario Matt, AUT 1:53.05
28. Ivica Kostelic, CRO 1:54.77
Other North Americans:
DNQ 2nd:
Ryan Semple, Julien Cousineau, CAN; Tom Rothrock, Erik Schlopy, Bode Miller, Chip Knight, USA.
DNF 1st: Jean-Philippe Roy, Paul Stutz, CAN; Steven Nyman, USA.
DNF 2nd: Patrick Biggs, CAN.

THE SCOOP
By Hank McKee

Equipment
Men’s SL, Kranjska Gora, Dec. 22, 2005
Skier, skis/boots/bindings

1. Rocca, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
2. Grandi, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
3. Ligety, Volkl/Nordica/Marker
4. Schoenfelder, Fischer/Nordica/Fischer
5. Palander, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
6. Brolenius, Head/Nordica/Tyrolia
7. Yuasa, Hart/Dolomite/Look
8. Pranger, Volkl/Lange/Marker
9. Hansson, Dynastar/Lange/Look
9. Vidal, Dynastar/Lange/Look

Men’s slalom, Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, Dec. 22, 2005. … It is the 15th event of the men’s 34 race, 4 combined season. … It is the third of 10 scheduled slaloms. … The second of two at Kranjska Gora. … It is the 30th slalom held at Kranjska Gora.

It is the ninth career win for Giorgio Rocca. … All in slalom. … It is his third win of the season in three slaloms held. … It is his second straight slalom win at Kranjska Gora. … With nine slaloms wins, Rocca moves past Gustavo Thoeni into sole possession of second on the all-time Italian list behind Alberto Tomba (35). … He now matches Phil Mahre, Tamara McKinney, Patrick Russel and Benjamin Raich on the international slalom win list in 14th. … He and Alberto Tomba are the only Italians to win slaloms at the site, and have five between them.

It is the sixth career podium for Thomas Grandi. … Second is the best slalom result ever for a Canadian male, and he has done it twice, the other at Kitzbuehel (Jan. 25, 2004). … It is his second podium in two days, having been third in the GS. … It is the second time this season a Canadian male has made the podium on consecutive days (Erik Guay, Val Gardena SG, Dec. 16, and DH Dec. 17). … Prior to that, go back to Ken Read in back to back DH’s at Wengen in 1980.

It is the second career podium for Ted Ligety and the second of the seas
on (Dec. 4 Beaver Creek). … He has more scoring results at Kranjska Gora (3) than any other site. …

It is the first career scoring result in slalom for James Cochran. … Of his four scoring results, three have come at Kranjska Gora.

Aksel Lund Svindal (18th in race) holds the lead of the World Cup overall standings 450-442 over Bode Miller (DNQ for second run). … Benjamin Raich was a second-run DNF. … Raich is third at 430. … Rocca holds a substantial lead in the slalom standings 300-160 over Ted Ligety with Thomas Grandi third at 130.

Winning margin is .64 of a second. … Third is another three-hundredths out and fourth is more than a second. … Sixteenth is two seconds out. … Final three finishers score no points as they are too large a percentage in back of the winner.

Canadian veteran Jeff Hume retires from national teamKranjska Gora: Rocca stays perfect in slalom, USA's Ligety 3rd

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