Chamonix Report: Giorgio Rocca, Patrick Biggs and Bode MillerGiorgio Rocca, a reflective and musclebound slalom specialist from a tax-free zone at the roof of Europe, won the Chamonix slalom Sunday. It is his second World Cup win in a row, and a repeat of his performance last year at this famous French town on the shoulder of Mont Blanc.
“There are so many variables that you have to try to control in this sport,” said Rocca, when asked, in the post-race press conference, whether he could keep skiing at his peak through the coming weeks. “You need a good staff, good conditioning, good morale. Then you feel in top form, and suddenly everything can change. Last year, I won here, and the next week I went out in Wengen and it all changed. The self-confidence wasn’t there.”
Rocca is from Livigno, Italy, a small village right near Bormio, where the alpine world championships will begin in just 21 days. As the hometown favorite, he will feel loads of pressure as he competes in the slalom and, if coaches grant his wishes, the combined event.
The top American in today’s slalom was Ted Ligety, who also got an award for being the youngest racer in the top-15. “I make a lot of mistakes, but in training I try to go for it in every run, and hopefully I’m able to tone it down a little bit in the races,” said Ligety, the 2004 Sprint/Ski Racing Junior of the Year. “I test my limits in the training runs, and that way I know what I can pull off in the race.”
There will be competition among the Americans for start spots in the world championships slalom. Bode Miller, Tom Rothrock and Ted Ligety are leading contenders, while Chip Knight and Erik Schlopy are dueling for spots too.
Hitting the Bigg-time
Patrick Biggs of Canada was the sensation of the day in Chamonix, starting 59th and ending up 10th in his first World Cup ever. A part-time student at Dartmouth College, Biggs has been on a tear recently, winning two Europa Cups in Czech and also winning in the recent NorAms in Sunday River, Maine. He arrived in Chamonix Saturday night, and was still jet-lagged for the race.
“They asked me about my background,” said Biggs, after giving an interview on live Austrian television. “I told them that I was in college, and that it was my first year on the team.”
His success followed on the heels of Canada’s success amid the carnage of Saturday’s downhill, where Manny Osborne scored points in his first World Cup.
Biggs finished 30th on the first run, positioning himself to start first on the second run — ideal conditions, and an enormous opportunity. “We told him that this race is like any other race, and he has to try to win,” said Dusan Grasic, the head tech coach for the Canadian team. “We tell all our racers, ‘we don’t hold back.’ We always go out full-attack.”
Biggs won one of the middle splits on the second run. The next-fastest skier through that 14-second section was Kalle Palander of Finland.
The race leader in World Cups is always made to stand in a special place where cameras can show their reaction as other racers try to knock them off. Biggs was there for the first 16 skiers before he was finally beaten.
“I’ve been trying to run out the turn longer into the next turn,” said Biggs, asked to describe for North American ski fans exactly how he has broken through at age 22. “I was pressuring too hard at the gate before. Now I’m skiing slalom more like a GS turn, running out the turn and picking up that new ski early with the outside knee. That’s pretty much all it is, and it’s been working pretty well.” He credited his coach Peter Rybarik with being particularly helpful.
A rough day for Bode Miller
Bode Miller, the overall World Cup leader, still, by almost 300 points over Benni Raich, skied out of the slalom today at Chamonix, where he won the combined last year.
Miller came over a knoll early in the first run, and lost pressure on his left ski. He lost too much elevation to make the turn, and nearly crashed. As he always does, Miller hiked to the gate he had missed and continued skiing. Fans love it, and Miller likes the opportunity to ski the rest of the course without restraint. He was almost to the finish when he finally stopped and attended to his boot, which had come unbuckled as he shinned the gates. Then he stood on the side of the course, chatting with U.S. speed coach John McBride before bypassing the finish and spending the afternoon training slalom.
The night before the race, Miller was late in arriving to the bib presentation ceremony. As a result, he was penalized by the jury, and started 15th.
Jan. 9, 2004
1. Giorgio Rocca, ITA 1:28.15
2. Benjamin Raich, AUT 1:29.48
3. Markus Larsson, SWE 1:29.51
4. Kalle Palander, FIN 1:29.57
5. Ivica Kostelic, CRO 1:29.72
6. Mario Matt, AUT 1:29.75
7. Silvan Zurbriggen, SUI 1:29.80
8. Manfred Pranger, AUT 1:29.91
9. Rainer Schoenfelder, AUT 1:29.95
10. Patrick Biggs, CAN 1:30.15
10. Manfred Moelgg, ITA 1:30.15
12. Alois Vogl, GER 1:30.22
13. Aksel Lund Svindal, NOR 1:30.23
14. Jukka Leino, FIN 1:30.37
15. Ted Ligety, USA 1:30.41
16. Pierrick Bourgeat, FRA 1:30.56
17. Truls Ove Karlsen, NOR 1:30.59
18. Jure Kosir, SLO 1:30.60
19. Patrick Thaler, ITA 1:30.61
20. Felix Neurather, GER 1:30.63
21. Kentaro Minagawa, JPN 1:30.71
22. Cristian Deville, ITA 1:30.75
23. Jukka Rajala, FIN 1:30.83
23. Martin Marinac, AUT 1:30.83
25. Kilian Albrecht, AUT 1:30.85
26. Chip Knight, USA 1:30.91
27. Alain Baxter, GBR 1:31.08
28. Erik Schlopy, USA 1:31.44
29. Tom Rothrock, USA 1:31.65
other North Americans:
DNQ 2nd: Michael Janyk, Jean-Philippe Roy, CAN.
DNF 1st: Thomas Grandi, Ryan Semple, CAN; Bode Miller, USA.
By Hank McKee
Men’s slalom, Chamonix, France, Jan. 9, 2005 Skier, skis/boots/bindings
1 Rocca, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
2 Raich, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
3 Larsson, Fischer/Nordica/Fischer
4 Palander, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
5 Kostelic, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
6 Matt, Fischer/Nordica/Fischer
7 Zurbriggen, Fischer/Lange/Tyrolia
8 Pranger, Volkl/Lange/Marker
9 Schoenfelder, Fischer/Nordica/Fischer
10 Biggs, Volkl/Nordica/Marker
10 Moelgg, Fischer/Lange/Look
Chamonix, Jan. 9, 2005. … It is the 18th race of the men’s 35 race (plus 2 combined) World Cup schedule. … It is the fourth of nine scheduled slaloms.
Giorgio Rocca crushes the field with a winning margin of 1.3 seconds. … 10th place is two second out. … It is Rocca’s fifth career victory, all in slalom. … It is his second win of the season and second in two consecutive slaloms. … He is the only Italian skier to win this season. … It is his second consecutive SL win at Chamonix having also won in 2004. … Angelo Weiss won the previous at the site giving the Italians three straight.
It is the 40th career podium for Benjamin Raich. … His fifth of the season. … He has gained points in 15 of the 17 men’s races held.
It is the first career podium for Markus Larsson. … His best previous slalom result was eighth. … His previous best Cup result was 7th in cmb… at Chamonix.
It is the first career anything for Patrick Biggs. … First scoring result, first top 10. … He started 59th. … Together with Jeff Hume and Manuel Osborne-Paradis, he is the third Canadian male in the past two days to get their first points with a top 15 result. …
It is the fourth career scoring result for Ted Ligety. … And matches his career best. … It is his third scoring result of the season. … It is the 21st career scoring result for Chip Knight. … His first of the season. … It is the fifth scoring resul
t of the season for Erik Schlopy… But his first in slalom. … It is the second scoring result of the season for Tom Rothrock. … 17th of his career.
Bode Miller (first run DNF) leads the Men’s Overall standings 908-640 for Benjamin Raich. … Michael Walchhofer (did not race) is third at 541. … Daron Rahlves (did not race) is the next best Amerian in fifth at 436. … Giorgio Rocca leads the slalom standing 280-270 over Raich. … Miller is the top American in ninth at 100pts. … Austria’s Nations Cup lead is 6868-3389 over the U.S. … Austrian men lead 4120-1687 for the U.S. … Italy is third among men at 1569.