Put a few medals in a guys pocket and nothing phases him. Christof Innerhofer faced an unusual slalom first combined on a track the men had never seen before at Bansko, Bulgaria today (Feb. 26). Instead of anticipated fog (the reason for going slalom first) they got sugary snow and none of it seemed to matter to the Italian triple medal winner.
When you’re hot, you’re hot. Innerhofer seemed oblivious to the conditions or surface and eked out a .01 of a second margin over Felix Neureuther, no doubt seething a bit from the World Championship on his home hill where he couldn’t get it going. Frenchman Thomas Mermillod Blondin was third and Ted Ligety fourth matching his career best Cup result in the discipline from 2006 – the same year he won the gold medal in combined at the Olympics.
“When you are on a roll, keep rolling,” said Innerhofer. He could only explain his new found success by saying he was in the same frame of mind as he was at Garmisch for the World Championships.”I don’t know how long this will go on, but I’m thrilled.”
Ligety said he was pleased with his super G leg, but felt he could have done more with the slalom course, set by U.S. coach Mike Kenney. “I didn’t feel like I had the greatest slalom in the world, but by super G run was pretty good. It was a pretty GS friendly super G hill, so that worked out well for me.”
A stunningly strong result was put up by Tim Jitloff in eighth. It is just his second combined result, just his second top 10 finish and his best in two years.
“Jitloff did a hell of a job in the first run,” said U.S. coach Sasha Rearick, “skied clean and moved with the terrain well. It was a rough course. It held up but was rough with changing snow conditions.”
The coach said he was also pleased with the effort of Colby Granstrom, the 31st finisher. He said he was particularly good from the midsection down. “I’m stoked to see him come out and execute that level of skiing in a World Cup.”
Granstrom was 15th in the slalom leg, then experienced back spasms. He gutted out the super G leg and nearly scored despite what he called “a 360″ on the super G course.
Ivica Kostelic – the winner of the other three combineds this season and already the title winner, was fifth. He now appears to have clear sailing to the overall title as his three top competitors didn’t play. Didier Cuche had thumb surgery last week and Silvan Zurbriggen was also a no-show. There was no reported injury but he did fail to finish the last race at World Championships, the slalom. Askel Lund Svindal also elected not to travel to Bansko.
Kostelic now owns a 569pt lead over Cuche and 581pt lead over Svindal and a 591 advantage over Zurbriggen with a maximum of 10 races remaining.
By Hank McKee
Men’s World Cup combined, Bansko, Bulgaria, Feb. 26, 2011
1 Innerhofer, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
2 Neureuther, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
3 Mermillod Blondin, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
4 Ligety, Head/Head/Head
5 Kostelic, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
6 Bank, Elan/Nordica/Elan
7 Sieber, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
8 Jitloff, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
9 Moelgg, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
10 Baumann, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
Men’s World Cup combined, Bansko, Bulgaria, Feb. 26, 2011. … It is a super G/slalom combined. … It is the 29th race of the men’s 39 race 2011 World Cup schedule with one cancellation. … It is the fourth and final combined on the schedule. … It is the first of two at Bansko with a slalom scheduled tomorrow. … It is the fourth Cup race to be held at Bansko and the first for men, the women holding three races in 2009.
It is the second career World Cup win for Christof Innerhofer, the other in DH at Bormio Dec. 28, 2008. … It is his second podium result in World Cup combined having placed third at Sestriere Feb. 22, 2009. … It is his second win of the season having claimed gold in the World Championship super G. … It is his fifth podium of the season with three championship medals and a third in DH at Bormio Dec. 29.
It is the ninth career World Cup podium for Felix Neureuther, the first not in slalom. … His next best combined result is 22nd from Beaver Creek Dec. 4, 2009. … It is his first podium finish of the season, a fourth in the Munich parallel the next best result.
It is the first career World Cup podium result for Thomas Mermillod Blondin and his first top 10 finish. … His best previous combined result was 14th at Beaver Creek Dec. 4, 2009. … His best previous finish this season – of four scoring finishes – was 17th in combined at Chamonix Jan. 30.
It is the 33rd time Ted Ligety has placed fourth or better in a World Cup race. … and matches his career best Cup combined result from Reiteralm Dec. 10, 2006. … It is his best finish this season that was not a victory. … It is the second best career Cup result for Tim Jitloff, bested only by a fifth in GS at Sestriere Feb. 21, 2009. … It is his only top 10 finish of the season the next best a 14th in combined at World Championships.
Ivica Kostelic (5th in race) leads the World Cup overall standings 1294-725 over Didier Cuche (did not race). … Aksel Lund Svindal is third with 713. … Ligety in the top American overall in ninth place with 514pts. … Erik Guay the top Canadian in 35th with 157pts. … The combined title belongs to Kostelic 345-219 over Innerhofer. … Kjetil Jansrud is third at 145pts. … Austria leads the men’s Nations Cup standings 4412-3072 over Switzerland. … Italy is third at 2404. … The USA ranks seventh with 1243pts and Canada ninth with 888pts.
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||FIS Points|
|3||17||192504||MERMILLOD BLONDIN Thomas||1984||FRA||1:01.68||1:22.52||2:24.20||2.59|
|13||8||421400||MYHRE Lars Elton||1984||NOR||1:01.56||1:23.75||2:25.31||11.31|
|Disqualified 1st run|
|Did not start 2nd run|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not finish 1st run|