Adelboden Jan. 7: Giorgio Rocca wins fourth consecutive slalom; Ligety career-best secondADELBODEN, Switzerland — Giorgio Rocca of Italy continued his undefeated streak on Sunday, Jan. 7, putting himself in prime shape to win the World Cup slalom title. He has won each of the season’s previous slaloms: Beaver Creek, Madonna di Campiglio and Kranjska Gora.
Rocca will almost certainly be billed as the new Alberto Tomba at the upcoming Olympic Winter Games, but according to Italian team manager Adriano Iliffe, Rocca doesn’t like the comparison. “Tomba was Tomba and Rocca is Rocca,” said Illife.
Ted Ligety was second despite a big mistake on the steep final pitch during the second run. It was a career-best result for the 21-year-old Park City native, and he remains the only American to have clinched an Olympic start position in that event. It is his third podium of the season, and it moved him into the top-seven bracket in the World Cup Start List standings — which means he’ll be in the draw.
‘Of course he is a big rival for me, and I really have to watch him’ said Rocca of the American who sits behind him in the slalom standings. ‘He is a nice guy, and he has his own technique, but he is able to work on it to make it efficient and consistent.’
Ligety said that the Adelboden hill is even harder for slalom than it is for GS (the men raced that event on Saturday, and Benni Raich was the winner). ‘In GS, it’s really just two turns of total gnarliness’ said Ligety. ‘In slalom it’s more turns coming down the pitch, but it’s harder in slalom to keep snow contact.’
Ligety said he came into the season expecting top 10 results and hopefully some GS points. “So far my results have exceeded my expectations, for sure,” he said.
Among Americans, Chip Knight was 17th, Schlopy 20th and Tom Rothrock 26th. Jimmy Cochran did not qualify for the second run, and Miller leaned in on the first run, failing to finish and avoiding the reporters eager to speak with him about the latest controversy, which still hasn’t arrived in a way.
Bill Marolt, the CEO of the United States Ski and Snowboard Association, is flying to Switzerland this week to speak with Miller about the situation. Marolt is also a member of the FIS Council.
Miller won the slalom here in 2002, just a month before the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. The last slalom here at Adelboden was in 2004, when Austria’s Rainer Schoenfelder beat Miller by two-tenths of a second. Schoenfelder went on to win the World Cup slalom title that season.
On Sunday, Miller raced with a replacement bib because the team physio had forgotten the bibs in the hotel (Ligety already had his from the ceremony the night before, and Rahlves delivered them for the remaining skiers).
Cochran was gunning for an Olympic spot now that the American giant slalom roster for Torino is more or less locked up, and was disappointed to have an equipment malfunction.
“I felt pretty good on top, but by the time I got to the pitch my boots were unbuckled,” said Cochran, who uses Tecnica boots. “I had no chance up there, basically. It’s so frustrating. I was fast on top, and had a decent split. I just had to make it down and I was in there.”
U.S. coach Phil McNichol said, ‘That’s become a problem as these guys are shimming gates with their boot tops and we’re working on trying to solve that — maybe lowering shin guards to cover the top couple of buckles. Jimmy certainly looked loose in his boots as he came over that pitch, and couldn’t do much.’
Knight enjoyed his second solid result in 24 hours in Adelboden. He earned his first World Cup GS points Saturday, finishing 18th, and matched his 17th in Adelboden from four years ago with a time of 1:42.31.
‘It’s a great beginning of the month for Chip, to score here in GS and now this. This is a tough hill’ McNichol said, ‘and he came to play. That Olympic slalom team is wide-open right now and we’ve got Wengen [Switzerland] next week, then Kitzbuehel and that night slalom in Schladming [Austria], so these guys know they have to start laying down solid runs.’
The World Cup’s coaches decided among themselves in an October meeting which of them would set the courses at this race. This year’s setters were Rainer Gstrein of the Austrian team and coach Marko Pfeiffer of Sweden.
The snow was exceedingly icy on the lower pitch thanks to a rainstorm that arrived only after organizers had injected the snow with water.
While the men were racing in Adelboden, the women were in Maribor, Slovenia, for a slalom, where Marlies Schild of Austria was the winner.
This was the fourth of 10 slaloms on the men’s World Cup calendar this season. The first was at Beaver Creek on Dec. 4, followed by Madonna di Campiglio (Dec. 12) and Kranjska Gora (Dec. 22). The next slalom comes Sunday at Wengen, Switzerland, where Rocca stands a mathematical chance of clinching the title. That will be followed by more slaloms at Kitzbuehel, Austria (Jan. 22); Schladming, Austria (a night race on Jan. 24); Shigakogen, Japan (two races on March 10 and 11); and Are, Sweden (at Finals, March 19).
Only two times in the history of the men’s World Cup has a single athlete swept every race in one discipline throughout a season: Jean-Claude Killy won each of five downhills in 1966-67, and Ingemar Stenmark won all 10 giant slaloms in 1978-79. Women’s racer Vreni Schneider won each slalom in 1988-89 (there were six).
What to watch for on the World Cup this week
From Adelboden the men’s World Cup travels to Wengen for the classic Lauberhorn races there. It’s just one valley away (click here for panoramic map). While the men are racing there, the women will travel to Bad Kleinkirchheim for two downhills and a super G there.
Ligety doesn’t mind the shadows
Ligety was late to the postrace news conference because he was posing for the cover of Sports Illustrated with his teammates Daron Rahlves, Bode Miller and Erik Schlopy.
Ligety was called ‘Baby Miller’ in a headline in the French sports daily L’Equipe earlier this season, apparently because the Utahan shares his teammate Bode Miller’s same approach to slalom skiing.
The nickname resurfaced over the PA system on Sunday during Ligety’s run. The Park City native was asked about being in Bode Miller’s shadow, and he said he liked it there.
“Everybody on the usst is in his shadow,” said Ligety. “Even Daron’s in his shadow.”
Ligety thinks he has been influenced by Miller, both in tactical approaches to courses and in spirit. “He has a drive to win in anything,” said Ligety. “He’s always competitive. You inspire yourself to be competitive.”
Jan. 8, 2006
1. Giorgio Rocca, ITA 1:39.14
Ligety, USA 1:39.74
3. Benjamin Raich, AUT 1:39.92
4. Jean-Pierre Vidal, FRA 1:40.21
5. Kalle Palander, FIN 1:40.45
6. Markus Larsson, SWE 1:40.48
7. Andre Myhrer, SWE 1:40.56
8. Kjetil Jansrud, NOR 1:41.07
9. Alois Vogl, GER 1:41.16
10. Michael Janyk, CAN 1:41.27
11. Reinfried Herbst, AUT 1:41.29
12. Daniel Albrecht, SUI 1:41.66
13. Andreas Omminger, AUT 1:41.67
14. Pierrick Bourgeat, FRA 1:42.24
15. Patrick Thaler, ITA 1:42.27
16. Marc Berthod, SUI 1:42.30
17. Chip Knight, USA 1:42.31
18. Kilian Albrecht, AUT 1:42.68
19. Felix Neureuther, GER 1:42.92
20. Bernard Vajdic, SLO 1:43.10
21. Mitja Valencic, SLO 1:43.46
22. Andreas Nilsen, NOR 1:43.55
23. Cristian DeVille, ITA 1:43.87
24. Erik Schlopy, USA 1:44.13
25. Jean-Philippe Roy, CAN 1:44.40
26. Tom Rothrock, USA 1:57.01
Other North Americans:
DNQ 2nd: Patrick Biggs, Ryan Semple, CAN; James Cochran, USA.
DNF 1st: Thomas Grandi, Julien Cousineau, CAN; Bode Miller, USA.
By Hank McKee
Men’s SL, Adelboden, Jan. 8, 2006
1. Rocca, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
2. Ligety, Volkl/Nordica/Marker
3. Raich, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
4. Vidal, Dynastar/Lange/Look
5. Palander, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
6. Larsson, Fischer/Nordica/Fischer
7. Myhrer, Nordica//
8. Jansrud, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
9. Vogl, Volkl/Lange/Salomon
10. Janyk, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
Men’s slalom, Adelboden, Switzerland, Jan. 8, 2006. … It is the 18th event of the men’s 34 race, four combined season. … It is the fourth of 10 scheduled slaloms. … It is the fourth slalom ever held at Adelboden.
It is the 10th career victory for Giorgio Rocca, all in slalom. … It is his fourth win of the season in four slaloms held. … Three of those have been by more than half a second.
It is the third career podium result for Ted Ligety. … All of them this season and all in slalom. … It is a career-best result, the other podiums being third-place finishes.
It is the 50th career podium for Benjamin Raich. … His fifth of the season. … It is his fourth career podium at Adelboden and second in two days after winning the GS Jan. 7.
It is the second-best career finish for Michael Janyk, his only better placing sixth coming at Kranjska Gora Feb. 27, 2005. … It is his third scoring result of the season. … It is the second scoring result of the season and second in two days for Chip Knight. … It is the fifth scoring result of the season for Erik Schlopy. … Third of the season for Jean-Philippe Roy. … Tom Rothrock got no points for 26th place as he was too far behind the winner.
Winning margin is six-tenths of a second. … Top three skiers are with a second. … Top eight within two. … Benjamin Raich extends the lead of the World Cup overall standings 606-489 over Bode Miller (DNF 1st) and Daron Rahlves (did not race). … Rocca has firm control of the slalom rankings 400-240 over Ted Ligety. … Kalle Palander (fifth in race) is third at 150.