Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Shiffrin, Ligety celebrate World Cup crystal globes

Slalom, giant slalom winners in Switzerland


By JEFF CORDES
Express Staff Writer

Ted Ligety and Mikaela Shiffrin of the U.S. Ski Team hold their World Cup crystal globes Saturday at Lenzerheide, Switz. U.S. Ski Team photo by Jeff Shiffrin

     Mikaela Shiffrin of Eagle-Vail, Co., who celebrated her 19th birthday March 13, is still a teenager but she’s leaving Audi FIS Alpine World Cup women’s slalom racers in the dust.

     Ted Ligety, 29, of Park City, Utah is a grizzled veteran with plenty of hardware in his trophy case. But he got the help a veteran occasionally gets to win the World Cup giant slalom globe in a tiebreaker Saturday.

     As they’ve done all winter, Shiffrin and Ligety highlighted the U.S. Ski Team effort during the 2013-14 Audi FIS World Cup Finals staged March 12-16 at Lenzerheide, Switz.

     Olympic slalom gold medalist Shiffrin put a wrap on a spectacular slalom season Saturday, taking a dominant 1.44-second win in the season finale at Lenzerheide to hoist her second straight Audi FIS Alpine World Cup crystal globe. It was her fifth slalom victory of the World Cup season.

     Shiffrin’s ninth career win solidified her season-long dominance after she had clinched the discipline title a week ago with a win at Are, Swe., according to the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association News Bureau.

     Among her accomplishments: She equaled the U.S. record in either gender, also held by Tamara McKinney and Phil Mahre. Each was 24 when they reached nine wins. The victory tied Shiffrin with Picabo Street for the third most World Cup victories in all disciplines by a U.S. woman, behind only Lindsey Vonn (59) and McKinney (18).

     Shiffrin is now the first non-European to win five World Cup slalom races in one season. She is also the first non-European and youngest woman to win the World Cup slalom title twice.

     Her 638-488 winning margin over Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter, a difference of 150 points, trailed only Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal’s 210-margin in winning the downhill crystal globe this season. Shiffrin ended up fourth in the overall standings with 895 points.

     Later Saturday, Shiffrin shared the World Cup winning stage with teammate and fellow Olympic gold medalist Ligety. He collected his career fifth giant slalom crystal globe with a dramatic win at the season finale.

     The Audi FIS Alpine World Cup giant slalom title came down to a dramatic last run shootout with Ligety taking the victory and winning a points tiebreaker with Austria's Marcel Hirscher to claim his fifth crystal globe. Hirscher lost his hold on the globe when he finished the race fourth by a mere hundredth of a second.

     It was a genuine cliffhanger.

     Ligety not only needed to win the race, he also needed Hirscher to finish fourth or lower. That’s exactly what happened when the last racer of the day, German Felix Neureuther, bumped Hirscher from the podium by a mere hundredth of a second.

     Hirscher and Ligety each ended up with 560 giant slalom points, but Ligety prevailed by winning five of the eight competitions, to just two for Hirscher. Ligety won at Soelden, Aust., at Beaver Creek, Co., at St. Moritz, Switz., at Kranjska Gora, Slov. and again in Switzerland, at Lenzerheide.

     With the win in a hugely entertaining race that saw the lead constantly changing hands, Ligety became the second man in history to have two seasons with five or more World Cup giant slalom wins. Ingemar Stenmark has done it three times. It was Ligety’s 22nd win, just one behind Michael von Grünigen of Switzerland (23), who is second place on the all-time list behind Stenmark, who has 46 giant slalom victories.

     Yet Saturday’s fourth-place result clinched the third consecutive World Cup men’s overall title for Hirscher. His fourth-place finish was more than enough for him to secure the overall season title ahead of Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal, who did not finish the first run.

     Hirscher, 24, became the first three-peat overall champion since American Phil Mahre did it from 1981-83.

     The crowd was clearly behind Ligety. He received a standing ovation after the win and a hearty bear hug from all his closest competitors. Afterward, Hirscher acknowledged his major goal was winning the overall.

     “I’m super thrilled, it’s always a big goal of mine every season to win the giant slalom globe, but that was by the skin of my teeth today,” said Ligety to FIS.com. “I owe Felix a few drinks for edging Marcel. It’s really a testament to Marcel that he was able to get on the podium at nearly every race this year and make it a fight to win the globe. I’m just really happy that it worked out in my favor by the hundredths.”

     Hirscher (1,222 points) was a 31-point winner over Svindal (1,091), who was shooting for his first overall title since crowns in 2007 and 2009. Svindal had already clinched the 2013-14 downhill and super giant slalom titles—his 10th and 11th World Cup season titles. On Sunday, Hirscher won the slalom finale to capture the slalom crystal globe by 15 points.

     Ligety placed 12th in Sunday’s slalom finale and finished 23rd in the slalom season standings with 81 points. As for Shiffrin, she was also 12th in Sunday’s giant slalom send-off and placed seventh in the season ranks.

     Austria’s Anna Fenninger, 24, won Sunday’s GS finale and added the GS crystal globe to her first-ever overall season title she won 1,371 to 1,180 over the injured Maria Hoefl-Riesch, 29, of Germany.

     Here are final World Cup standings and top Americans plus overall discipline results:

     Women’s overall:1—Anna Fenninger (Aust.) 1,371. 2—Maria Hoefl-Riesch (Germ.) 1,180. 3—Lara Gut (Switz.) 1,101. 4—Tina Maze (Slov.) 964. 5—Tina Weirather (Liech.) 943. 6—Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) 895.

     23—Julia Mancuso (USA) 306. 28—Stacey Cook (USA) 247. 52—Leanne Smith (USA) 115. 68—Lindsey Vonn (USA) 69. 80—Laurenne Ross (USA) and Resi Stiegler (USA) 43. 96—Jacqueline Wiles (USA) 20. 102—Megan McJames (USA) 13. 108—Julia Ford (USA) 10.

     Men’s overall: 1—Marcel Hirscher (Aust.) 1,222. 2—Aksel Lund Svindal (Nor.) 1,091. 3—Alexis Pinturault (Fra.) 1,028. 4—Ted Ligety (USA) 991. 8—Bode Miller (USA) 633.

     23—Travis Ganong (USA) 343. 50—Tim Jitloff (USA) 147. 62—David Chodounsky (USA) 93. 70—Andrew Weibrecht (USA) 72. 72—Marco Sullivan (USA) 71. 81—Jared Goldberg (USA) 57. 83—Steven Nyman (USA) 54. 98—Erik Fisher (USA) 30. 113—Nolan Kasper (USA) 18. 129—Will Brandenburg (USA) 8. 145—Robby Kelley (USA) 3.

     Women’s downhill: 1—Maria Hoefl-Riesch (Germ.) 504. 2—Anna Fenninger (Aust.) 464. 3—Tina Maze (Slov.) 409. 4—Tina Weirather (Liech.) 400. 5—Marianne Kaufmann-Abderhalden (Switz.) 389. 15—Julia Mancuso (USA) 160. 18—Stacey Cook (USA) 143. 30—Leanne Smith (USA) 49. 34—Laurenne Ross (USA) 32. 36—Lindsey Vonn (USA) 24. 38—Jacqueline Wiles (USA) 18. 46—Julia Ford (USA) 10.

     Men’s downhill: 1—Aksel Lund Svindal (Nor.) 570. 2—Hannes Reichelt (Aust.) 360. 3—Erik Guay (Can.) 357. 4—Kjetil Jansrud (Nor.) 328. 5—Matthias Mayer (Aust.) 307 and Patrick Kueng (Switz.) 307. 8—Bode Miller (USA) 264. 9—Travis Ganong (USA) 250. 26—Ted Ligety (USA) 80. 28—Marco Sullivan (USA) 71.

     Women’s super giant slalom: 1—Lara Gut (Switz.) 448. 2—Anna Fenninger (Aust.) 357. 3—Tina Weirather (Liech.) 310. 4—Elisabeth Goergl (Aust.) 240. 5—Maria Hoefl-Riesch (Germ.) 216. 15—Julia Mancuso (USA) and Stacey Cook (USA) 104. 19—Leanne Smith (USA) 66. 25—Lindsey Vonn (USA) 45. 48—Jacqueline Wiles (USA) 2.

     Men’s super giant slalom: 1—Aksel Lund Svindal (Nor.) 346. 2—Kjetil Jansrud (Nor.) 259. 3—Patrick Kueng (Switz.) 255. 4—Matthias Mayer (Aust.) 236. 5—Bode Miller (USA) 220. 19—Travis Ganong (USA) 93. 20—Ted Ligety (USA) 90.

     Women’s giant slalom: 1—Anna Fenninger (Aust.) 518. 2—Jessica Lindell-Vikarby (Swe.) 492. 3—Maria Pietilae-Holmner (Swe.) 339. 4—Lara Gut (Switz.) 285. 5—Kathrin Zettel (Aust.) 284. 7—Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) 257. 31—Julia Mancuso (USA) 42. 44—Megan McJames (USA) 13.

     Men’s giant slalom: 1—Ted Ligety (U.S.) 560 (wins tiebreaker, most GS races won, 5). 2—Marcel Hirscher (Aust.) 560. 3—Alexis Pinturault (Fra.) 458. 4—Thomas Fanara (Fra.) 278. 5—Felix Neureuther (Germ.) 263. 18—Tim Jitloff (USA) 127. 22—Bode Miller (USA) 115.

     Women’s slalom: 1—Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) 638. 2—Frida Hansdotter (Swe.) 488. 3—Marlies Schild (Aust.) 385. 4—Maria Pietilae-Holmner (Swe.) 308. 5—Maria Hoefl-Riesch (Germ.) 234. 29—Resi Stiegler (USA) 43.

     Men’s slalom: 1—Marcel Hirscher (Aust.) 565. 2—Felix Neureuther (Germ.) 550. 3—Henrik Kristoffersen (Nor.) 454. 4—Patrick Thaler (Italy) 351. 5—Mattias Hargin (Swe.) 349. 19—David Chodounsky (USA) 93. 23—Ted Ligety (USA) 81.

     Women’s combined: 1—Marie-Michele Gagnon (Can.) 100. 2—Michaela Kirchgasser (Aust.) 80. 3—Maria Hoefl-Riesch (Germ.) 60. 20—Laurenne Ross (USA) 11.

     Men’s combined: 1—Ted Ligety (USA) 180 and Alexis Pinturault (Fra.) 180. 3—Thomas Mermillod Blondin (Fra.) 90. 16—Bode Miller (USA) 29. 19—Tim Jitloff (USA) 20.

 

U.S. Alpine Championships this week

     Impacted by mild weather, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association has made changes to its schedule for the Nature Valley U.S. Alpine Ski Championships March 19-23 at Squaw Valley, Ca.

     The scheduled super giant slalom races have been canceled to allow organizers to focus on giant slalom and slalom races. In addition to the U.S. Championship giant slalom and slalom events, USSA is also adding an International Ski Federation giant slalom for men and women.

     Schedule:

     Wednesday, March 19: Men’s FIS giant slalom (not U.S. Championship event).

     Thursday, March 20: Women’s U.S. Championship giant slalom.

     Friday, March 21: Men’s U.S. Championship giant slalom.

     Saturday, March 22: Men’s and women’s U.S. Championship slaloms.

     Sunday, March 23: Women’s FIS giant slalom (not U.S. Championship event).




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