World Cup: U.S. Men Shut Out of Slalom
Monday, December 4th 2006, 6:38 am
By: News On 6
BEAVER CREEK, Colo. (AP) _ After getting three podium finishes in two races in previous days, the U.S. men were shut out in the slalom. Still, they can take comfort in the fact that the Austrians weren't any better.
The only American to score points in Sunday's slalom was Jimmy Cochrane, who finished 22nd _ one day after Olympic combined champion Ted Ligety placed third in the giant slalom, and two days after Bode Miller and Steve Nyman took first and third in the downhill.
``Maybe we used up our good fortune earlier in the week, but it was a disappointing end to another outstanding week in Beaver Creek,'' U.S. men's head coach Phil McNichol said. ``We get these great crowds and these awesome snow conditions. Sometimes slalom just leaves me pulling my hair out.''
Ligety, sitting second going into the final leg, straddled a gate midway down the chopped-up course. Miller, who posted his first World Cup downhill victory in two years Friday and finished 12th in Saturday's GS _ went off course 37 seconds into his first run.
``It's good to know I can be in there in the slalom,'' said Ligety, who did not qualify for the second run at the season-opener in Levi, Finland, last month. ``At the same time, I don't like to go out that much.''
The Americans ruled here last year. The now-retired Daron Rahlves edged Miller in the downhill. Miller in turn took the giant slalom with Rahlves in second, and Ligety placed third in the slalom.
``We have to focus on the positive, and this definitely was another great trip to Beaver Creek,'' McNichol said. ``We have some really good momentum now _ our first win, our first podiums of the season _ and we want to keep it rolling.''
The Austrians _ who failed to get a single win here for first time since the Birds of Prey races began nine years ago _ are having a tougher time getting their season rolling.
Austrian men have just one win _ and just three podium finishes total _ this season. Olympic champion Benjamin Raich won the slalom at Levi and Mario Scheiber was second in the super-G at Lake Louise, Canada.
It has now been three straight races that Austrians have not even reached the podium. Olympic bronze medalist Rainer Schoenfelder, third in Thursday's super-combi, was the only Austrian to post a top-three result in this week's races.
Manfred Pranger, seventh, was the only Austrian to finish in the top-10 of the slalom.
This week's results should delight International Ski Federation president Gian Franco Kasper, who has long warned that domination by a single nation is harming the sport.
Austria has led the nation standings for the last 14 years.
``We are only trying to help the sport,'' Austrian Ski Federation President Peter Schroeksnadel joked, when asked why his team was doing so poorly.
Despite their lack of podium results, the Austrians are still in command of the Nations Cup standings thanks to the depth and breadth of their team. They lead with 2,439 points after 13 men's and women's races. Switzerland is second with 993, while Italy is third with 969. The U.S. is fourth with 932.
``No one is ever going to take the Nations Cup from them,'' Ligety said. ``They've got 30 guys that can score World Cup points and we have 10 guys that can score top-10s but we don't have quite the same volume of guys.
``If we get first, second and third and they have seventh, eighth, ninth, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th like they normally do, they still end up racking up a lot of points.''
Sweden's Andre Myhrer completed two high-risk runs to win the slalom his first career World Cup victory, leading a young podium whose average age was just 23. Myhrer, fastest in the opening leg, consolidated his lead the second time down the deteriorated course to win with an aggregate time of 1 minute, 48.60 seconds.
Michael Janyk of Canada climbed from fifth into second in 1:49.33 to earn the first World Cup podium of his career.
Germany's Felix Neureuther, just 22, maintained his third place after the opening run, crossing in 1:50.00 to likewise reach the podium for the first time.
Cochran, of Keene, NH, had a two-run time of 1:53.29.
``I wish I were skiing better. It's tough to feel good _ even with World Cup points _ when I skied this badly,'' said Cochran, who also finished 27th in the super-combi and 28th in the giant slalom.
The next men's race is a super-combi next Sunday at Reiteralm, Austria. The race was moved from Val d'Isere, France, because of poor snow conditions.