chance to build more points on her German rival and friend before the technical events. Vonn
had already clinched the super G globe. Still, cancellation made it advantage, Riesch.
Cancellation, too, crowned Didier Cuche the men’s super G winner. With a cushion of 64 points
his closest challengers, overall winner Ivica Kostelic from Croatia and Walchhofer, had a shot
at the title. It was not to be, and the long time Swiss ace who admits he is “skiing for the record
book” walked away with his first super G globe and second title of the year.
By late in the day Thursday, temperatures edged lower. Rain turned to heavy, wet snow. Enough
fell so that avalanche howitzers cracked off just after 2 a.m. in Parpan, a modest village just
over the hill from Lenzerheide.
Parpan, not Lenzerheide, really hosts the races. The red-bordered ribbon of the racetrack
twists and turns from high cliffs above the 17th-century village and church to a large field behind
the hamlet that houses a grand finish area surrounded by high tribunes and a tent city filled with
bratwurst grills, pizza establishments, beer halls and vendors of all sorts.
While the snowfall brightened the village, it also insulated an already mushy surface. So much
for the men’s final giant slalom. Once again weather had crowned another champion, Ted
Ligety, who earned his third globe in the discipline. The Park City native was admittedly disappointed he could not race for the title, but wasn’t about to turn it down. “It is kind of weird losing
two full GS races [this season] but I am pretty happy about it,” Ligety said. “Any time you get a
title it is obviously a good year!” Ligety had jump-started the season with three straight victories,
including one on the vaunted piste at Alta Badia, the Holy Grail of giant slalom skiing. As if that
was not enough, World Championship GS gold in Garmisch-Partenkirchen put an exclamation
point on his exploits. It was, as he said, “a season to be proud of!”
It took more effort on the part of the organizers, who used fire hoses and chemicals to give the
women a chance at sort of a slalom race. The race piste was scraped of its heavy wet snow
layer by members of the Swiss army, who ski-packed the mushy surface even as hoses poured
water on the surface. The course was slipped and chemicals applied. What came out was a
marginal surface at best and a quarter-horse slalom — 36 gates on reduced terrain. To make
the event more bizarre, officials decided to run both slalom runs on the same set. Yes, it had
been done before but no one could quite remember when and why.
Given the snow conditions the first five skiers out had a distinct advantage. Propitiously Riesch
had drawn bib No. 2. She skied well and capitalized on her start number by posting the second
time to overall and unbeatable slalom winner, Marlies Schild. As if by the book, four of the top
five first-run leaders came from bib Nos. 2 to 5. A breakthrough occurred when Tina Maze, a
talented veteran from Slovenia, cracked into the top three wearing bib No. 15. Meanwhile Vonn,
whose slalom season has been fraught with troubles — four DNFs and one DNS in nine races
— started 16th and fought down the course to tie for 14th.
Since there was no reset and no inspection, something Vonn complained about after the race
— “it would have been nice to see where the big holes were,” she said — a very quick turn-
Maze powers her way through
the rutted slalom course.
Ivica Kostelic navigates through
the Lenzerheide fog on his way
to claiming the slalom title.
SkiRacing.com APRIL 7, 2011 | 28