Ligety clinches 2nd world gold Kostelic claim silver

SCHLADMING, Austria, Feb 11, (AFP): American Ted Ligety showed all his technical expertise on Monday to add the world super-combined title to the super-G crown he won earlier in the championships. In the absence of Lindsey Vonn, injured in her opening super-G event, Ligety’s second gold was a major boost for the US team, which now tops the overall medals table. The 28-year-old overcame a 0.72sec deficit in the downhill to produce a stunning second-fastest slalom run for an aggregate time of 2min 56.96sec.
“After that downhill, I was in a really good position,” Ligety said. “In the slalom I just tried to be smart because it would have been easy to go out. “I’ve been racing for nine years, so I’m used to the pressure situations.”

Croat veteran Ivica Kostelic claimed silver at 1.15sec, while Austrian Romed Baumann, who led after the downhill, took bronze, a further two-hundredths adrift. “I’m very happy, it was a lucky medal,” Kostelic said. “I didn’t deserve it in the slalom. I think it’s the first time I’ve won a combined medal thanks to my performance in the downhill.” Under bright floodlights, the Planai slope was the perfect stage to showcase the nail-biting nature of the super-combined, a real test of the best all-round skier. The speed specialists who set the fastest times in the downhill earlier in the day came down in the slalom in reverse order, the pressure building to perform and safeguard their deficits in the more technical event.


A carnival-like atmosphere welcomed the racers down the slope, cow bells and air horns competing with an energetic DJ playing thumping music to keep the 20,000-crowd moving as the temperature dipped to -10 degrees Celsius. Even the skiers got into the act, playing up to the awaiting television cameraman in the finish area, waving and applauding the crowd to help draw even more raucous cheers. In claiming a second gold in these championships, Ligety denied a similar chance to Norway’s defending champion Aksel Lund Svindal, the downhill gold medallist straddling a gate in the tricky, tight middle section of the slalom.

“I straddled and that’s a mistake that can happen to anyone,” said a phlegmatic Svindal, who has also won super-G bronze here. “Ted was so good in the downhill and that lay the foundation for this combined victory. He then just crushes guys like Ivica Kostelic in the slalom, so an impressive day by Ted Ligety.”
French hopes for a fourth championships medal went up in smoke after Alexis Pinturault’s costly mistake in the downhill. The 21-year-old came out blazing in the slalom, setting the fastest time of 53.68sec, 1.18 faster than Ligety.

But it was not enough, and he was left to rue that slip-up earlier in the day as he finished sixth overall at 1.45sec. Pinturault’s teammate Adrien Theaux, fourth fastest in the downhill, skied out, soon to be followed by Italian Christof Innerhofer, leaving the course clear for Svindal and Baumann to launch themselves down the slope. After Svindal straddled a gate, Baumann held on to pip Finland’s Andreas Romar for bronze and send the medal-expectant Austrian nation wild.

The host nation had given a collective sigh when veteran Benjamin Raich, combined world champion in 2005 and World Cup crystal globe winner in that discipline in 2010, straddled a gate halfway down the course. His failure to finish, along with a big mistake from Matthias Mayer, set hearts a-beating, but Baumann, leader after the downhill, held on to double Austria’s medal count — Nicole Hosp won a bronze in the women’s combined.

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