The largest cash prize for a single ski race was once again awarded to Ted Ligety, the 2011 winner, at Monday’s Alpine Rockfest event at Paganello Ski Area in Andalo, Italy. “Mr. GS” took home an early Christmas present of 75,000 euros after beating out runner-up Luca de Aliprandini, Aksel Lund Svindal, Krystof Kryzl, and last year’s winner Davide Simoncelli in the finals of a multi-round, elimination sprint giant slalom race.
“Oh man, that’s an awesome Christmas present, that’s for sure,” said Ligety. “You know, for what the weather was the hill was awesome, it was a lot of fun to ski it. I felt like especially in that final I put together a pretty kicka– run in order to beat these guys. So I’m really happy I could do that.”
Bode Miller, a pre-race favorite, had the fastest qualification time in the Round of 15 but was bumped out of the contest just before the final round after a crucial error on the sprint course caught him on his inside ski with no time to recover.
“Maybe I was pushing too hard, I think. The first run down I felt like I had a lot more speed in me, and I was fast but I thought I had more speed,” remarked Miller. “I thought I was through all the real danger, so I maybe got a little bit lazy and made one mistake and that’s all it takes.”
He salvaged the spectacle of his run by throwing a helicopter off the pro jump and over the top of an Audi parked on the race course, much to the delight of fans.
“I love it when it’s (warm) like this — you don’t have to bundle up as much, it’s not freezing cold. Obviously, you know the snow could be a little bit harder, a little bit better, but I think as of right now it’s great for racing. You see the guys really pushing hard — everyone’s giving it their best — so I think it’s a fair race.”
Canadian Phil Brown, who has had past success racing team dual events, advanced from a preliminary round in the morning to qualify for the Round of 15 against the showcase athletes. Although he did not qualify from there to the Round of 10, he was still pleased with the experience and picked up some useful strategies for next year.
“It’s a sprint, so tactics don’t necessarily come into play,” noted Brown. “I think you just have to push and find some speed somewhere on the soft snow, and then get a big reach for the line hopefully to make up a few hundredths because it’s really tight in there.”
Tight it was. As Alpine Rockfest allows for no ties, the race is timed to the thousandth of a second. The U.S. Ski Team’s Tim Jitloff, who matched his career-best result just one day prior at Alta Badia, was on the losing side of those thousandths after the Round of 15. Still, he wasn’t too disappointed in his early exit and had plans to look forward to once the day’s celebration came to a close.
“I plan on going home and celebrating Christmas in Germany with my girlfriend,” said Jitloff.
Watch Bode Miller’s 360 degree rotation off the pro jump at Alpine Rockfest
1. 3 TED LIGETY USA HEAD 36.546
2. 2 LUCA DE ALIPRANDINI ITA SALOMON 36.844 +0.298
3. 14 KRYSTOF KRYZL CZE BLIZZARD 36.939 +0.393
4. 1 AKSEL LUND SVINDAL NOR HEAD 36.960 +0.414
5. 4 DAVIDE SIMONCELLI ITA SALOMON 37.091 +0.545