Wengen, Switzerland (Sports Network) – Ivica Kostelic wants to hang on to the World Cup lead. Friday (Jan. 14) he blasted the soft, slushy slalom leg of the Lauberhorn super combined at Wengen Switzerland for his third World Cup win of January, padding his lead in the overall standings.
Fifth after the morning’s downhill run, the Croate skier was more than a half second faster in the slalom set by his father than American Ted Ligety, the second fastest in the tight gates.
Ligety had been 23rd after the downhill leg and finished ninth. Bode Miller, winner of the combined at Wengen last season finished sixth, his second best finish of the season after a third in the parallel city event in Munich Jan.2. Tim Jitloff posted 24th, for his first World Cup combined score.
A popular second on the day was Swiss Carlo Janka, winner of the event in 2009, and runner up last season as well. Third went to Norwegian Aksel Lund Svindal. The winner of the downhill leg, Italian Christof Innerhofer was fourth while Benjamin Raich, a five time winner at Wengen, was fifth
For Kostelic, never better than fourth in combined at Wengen previously, the win gave him a little breathing room ahead of Svindal in the season long fight for the World Cup overall title. He leads 504-435. He gained the lead in the slalom at Adelboden Jan. 9, marking the ninth lead change of the season.
Ligety pulled no punches in his assessment of the slalom hill the Maennluchen. “The course is just bottomless slush,” Ligety said. “If you had powder skis on it would be like skiing corn. I was lucky to be one of the first guys down it.”
He said the conditions helped in one regard, taking the edge off of the notoriously tricky Ante Kostelic’s slalom set. “With how bad the snow is, it kind of lessens the difficulty of the course, the snow is so hard to push on.”
Miller said the soft snow probably helped him as well in the downhill leg. “I got a little unlucky in that my buckle came undone up on top, but it was really soft anyway,” indicating the need for precision in equipment wasn’t as critical as on a hard surface.
He said he was looking forward to Saturday’s downhill, though he wasn’t yet sure what skis he would be using. “We’ve been sort of jumping back and forth with our equipment,” he said. “I skied pretty well today, so I feel pretty comfortable with where the course is at, but you’ve got to hit the top flats well.”
Ligety said he would run the downhill Saturday as well, his first downhill of the season.
“I wasn’t very pleased with my downhill (in the combined) I feel I have a lot more potential than that and I had a bunch of mistakes, too. … Yeah, I think I’m going to race.”
OFFICIAL RESULTS – Super Combine
1. Ivica Kostelic, CRO, 2:40.44; 2. Carlo Janka, SUI, 2:41.02, 3. Aksel Lund Svindal, NOR, 2:41.78. 4. Christof Innerhofer, ITA, 2:41.97, 5. Benjamin Raich, AUT, 2:42.06.
- courtesy U.S. Ski Team,
photo: Paul Bussi