Massimiliano Blardone wins Adelboden; Bode Miller second


Massimiliano Blardone wins Adelboden; Bode Miller secondMax Blardone of Italy has won the Adelboden giant slalom, one of the most traditional and difficult races on the World Cup. American Bode Miller, who lost a pole on the first run and nearly did the splits on the second run, is the runner up. Last year’s winner, Kalle Palander, finished third.

In what may have been the ugliest wreck yet this season, Daron Rahlves of the United States crashed violently near the finish line as spectators scrambled out of the way. He lay motionless in the netting, then got up, receiving an ovation from the crowd, and walked without limping to the finish, where he chatted with a relieved-looking Bode Miller.

“Some World Cup crashes are surreal like that one,” said Miller afterwards. “He flew for 35 or 40 feet, and then landed and took off 35 meters or more. I think he did a 720 at least. I think he did a full rotation and was still going up when he should have been hitting the ground.” See below for more.

Max Blardone wins for Italy; Bode Miller nearly had it
Less than three weeks before the alpine World Championships arrive in Bormio, Italy, that nation’s men’s team has started peaking. Giorgio Rocca has won the last two slaloms, and Max Blardone won Adelboden today. It is the first career World Cup win for an Italian who’s hungry style of skiing is respected by his peers on the tour.

“Of course the Italian is approaching its best form, because we are reaching a level of maturity,” said Blardone. “I was really sure of my ability to win the race.”

Like Miller, Blardone said that winning Adelboden requires intentionally “giving up speed” in certain spots for tactical reasons.

“The tactics have to be perfect,” said Blardone, describing the unrelenting Adelboden course, which has steep pitches, sidehills, breakovers and ice. Blardone said it requires skidding. “If you take some speed away, you may lose some time at the moment, but you gain a lot for the clean line in the later parts. That’s why this course is so exciting. You have to be a good tactician. It’s a very special race.”

Miller was also trying to “give away speed” as he came over the knoll onto the final pitch, where things get especially fast. That’s when he caught his inside edge and did the splits. The mistake probably cost him the victory.

“I was trying to give away a tiny bit of speed,” he said. “I got rotated and twisted and was in the air for about ten feet…It takes a hill like that to bring out the best in skiing and bring out the best in recoveries. I was super-psyched to make that recovery and make the next gate. I was relieved just to stay on course. And then to get second made it pretty awesome.”

On the first run, both Miller and Erik Schlopy lost their poles. Both of them caught their arms on a gate. Miller said that he wasn’t prepared for how quickly his skis would initiate the turns, and kept getting thrown inside.

Miller was on the same skis he used to win giant slaloms this year at Soelden and Val d’Isere, but they have been out of commission for several weeks, being repaired after he blew out an edge hitting a rock in Alta Badia.

The only other American in the second run besides Miller and Rahlves was Dane Spencer, who finished 17th. Spencer also scored points in Flachau, despite major back pain. In the 2 and 1/2 weeks since then, he has hardly trained at all.

“I had one run of training, but it was really easy,” said Spencer. “This is one of the toughest hills, so I’m pleased that I was able to get two runs. I skied well at times. I wasn’t 100 percent. I was like 80 percent. And it’s hard to compete with this crowd if you’re not 100 percent.”

Rahlves “happy to be walking” after his crash
“When you take a crash and get up, it’s good news,” he said, telling reporters he feels like someone knocked him around with a baseball bat. “I just have a headache. My ass is killing me on both sides from the impact. But I’m okay. It was hard to get my breath back. I’m starting to feel a lot of sore spots now.”

Rahlves, who has emerged as a surprising podium threat in giant slalom this year, was in third place after the first run. He was on his second run, descending the steep final pitch into the finish. His time at the final interval, twenty seconds from the end, was the fastest of the day. He appeared to be only four gates from glory when he hit a cross-cutting road that he couldn’t absorb and crashed.

“It looked terrible,” said Miller. “It was really high speed, and a ton of forces. That force all went through his knee to get him off the ground like that. His skis hooked up, but his knee had to translate that force to his upper body…He should have been seriously injured, but he came walking down. He was alright.”

“I’m a little out of it right now,” Rahlves said, before retiring to the motorhome he began travelling in last week. “These are GS skis and they generate so much power when you get in the wrong spot. I was trying to take a direct line. I was on my tails a bit and in the backseat.”

Grandi gives up the red bib
One of the athletes who was shocked by Rahlves’s crash was Thomas Grandi of Canada, who came into the race having won the previous two World Cup giant slaloms.

“I can’t believe you can walk away from something like that,” said a Grandi, who came into the race wearing the red bib of the discipline standings leader (Grandi finished 12th, giving up the lead to Miller.)

Switzerland puts on a show for the home crowd
A major disappointment for the Swiss fans came when the first run winner, Didier Defago, skied out on the second run. After the Swiss team’s hero Didier Cuche tore ligaments in his knee last week, Defago has inherited the role of team leader.

But the young Marc Berthold of St. Moritz, jumped from 58th to 7th, pleasing his countrymen. Among the estimated 15,000 fans was Michael von Gruenigen, who retired in 2003 after winning 23 World Cup giant slaloms.

In other World Cup news…
An announcement concerning the b-sample lab-test results for Hans Knauss is expected later this week… Stacey Cook, one of this website’s online columnists, is recovering from her crash last week at Santa Caterina, where she received a concussion after hitting the nets…Training runs for the Wengen downhill begin tomorrow; it is the 75th anniversary of that race…Training runs for the women’s downhill at Cortina began today; American Lindsey Kildow leads the standings in that discipline.

Comments, suggestions or praise for our newly-relaunched website? Send us a note at webeditor@insideinc.com

World Cup

Men’s Giant Slalom
Adelboden, Switzerland
Jan. 11, 2005

1. Massimiliano Blardone, ITA 2:19.84
2. Bode Miller, USA 2:20.02
3. Kalle Palander, FIN 2:20.23
4. Benjamin Raich, AUT 2:20.54
5. Lasse Kjus, NOR 2:20.86
6. Fredrik Nyberg, SWE 2:20.72
7. Marc Berthod, SUI 2:20.98
8. Christoph Gruber, AUT 2:21.03
9. Ales Gorza, SLO 2:21.26
10. Bruno Kernen, SUI 2:21.33
10. Joel Chenal, FRA 2:21.33
12. Thomas Grandi, CAN 2:21.38
13. Peter Fill, ITA 2:21.40
14. Davide Simoncelli, ITA 2:21.71
15. Manfred Moellg, ITA 2:21.78
16. Marco Buechel, LIE 2:21.79
17. Dane Spencer, USA 2:21.82
18. Hermann Maier, AUT 2:21.83
19. Aksel Lund Svindal, NOR 2:21.86
20. Truls Ove Karlsen, NOR 2:21.91
21. Kjetil Jansrud, NOR 2:21.99
22. Bernard Vajdic, SLO 2:22.21
23. Gauthier DeTessieres, FRA 2:22.51
24. Mitja Valencic, SLO 2:22.57
25. Freddy Rech, FRA 2:24.81
26. Niklas Rainer, SWE 2:31.78
other North Americans:
DNF 2nd: Daron Rahlves, USA.
DNQ 2nd: Ryan Semple, CAN; Erik Schlopy, Tom Rothrock, James Cochran, USA.
DNF 1st: Jean-Philippe Roy, CAN

THE SCOOP

By Hank McKee

equipment
Me
n’s GS, Adelboden, Jan. 11, 2005

Skier, skis/boots/bindings
1 Blardone, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
2 Miller, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
3 Palander, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
4 Raich, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
5 Kjus, Dynastar/Atomic/Look
6 Nyberg, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
7 Berthod, Rossignol/Nordica/Rossignol
8 Gruber, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
9 Gorza, Atomic/Lange/Atomic
10 Kernen, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol 10 Chenal, Dynastar/Lange/Look

Men’s GS Adelboden 1/11/2005, It is the 19th race of the men’s 35 race (plus two combined) World Cup schedule. … It is the sixth of nine scheduled GS’s. … It is a traditional mid-week stop leading into Wengen. Winning margin is .18, second is .39. … top six within a second.

It is the first career victory for Massimiliano Blardone. … He has been 2nd three times previous, all in GS, and once at Adelboden. … His Adelboden results include 6th 1/9/01; 4th 1/5/02; 8th 1/14/03; 2nd 2/7/04 and the win. … It is the third Italian win of the season, with Giorgio Rocca snaring the other two in slaloms. … Blardone was also 2nd in the season opener at Solden 10/24.

It is the 34th career podium for Bode Miller. … His ninth of the season. … He has been on the podium of every GS this season that he has finished, but he has skied out in two of the six. … He has a win at Adelboden, but in slalom 1/6/02.

It is the 17th career podium for Kalle Palander. … just his fifth in GS. … He won the Adelboden GS last season. … His other GS podiums have come at Alta Badia in 2003 and Soelden to kick-off this season. …

It is the 29th time Thomas Grandi has placed in the top 12. … But his worst finish this season is 13. … He was looking for a third consecutive GS win. …It is the 7th best career finish for Dane Spencer. … His best (10th) came at Adelboden in 2002.

It was the first career scoring result for Swiss Marc Berthod. He placed seventh from the 68th start.

Bode Miller strengthens his World Cup overall lead to 988-690 over the pursuing Austrians Benjamin Raich 690, Hermann Maier (fiinished 18th) 551, and Michael Walchhofer (was 31st in the first run and did not qualify for second) 541. Daron Rahlves is fifth at 436 (DNF 2nd run). … With three races remaining on the schedule, Miller leads the GS standings 340-302 over Thomas Grandi. … Massimiliano is third at 266. … Next best Americans are Rahlves in 13th with 93 and Schlopy 14th with 85. …Austria’s Nations Cup lead at 6963-3483 over the U.S.. … Austrian men lead 4215-1781… Italy has closed to 1723.

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