of the Tuesday test. It was the second-best result of his blossoming career.
“I was really stoked with Tommy Ford and Tim Jitloff,” said coach Rearick. “Tommy was tired; he
did the downhill, did the super G and did the GS the other day. He was running out of gas. The first
run he didn’t quite move. Second run he did a great job of getting refueled, nutritionally, and then
showed mental toughness; he came out and it was just all mental. He came out and just charged
it, moved on his skis.”
The day, and the ear of the media, belonged to Ligety, and he certainly was asked about his pub-
lished disapproval of the FIS proposed change to skis, particularly GS skis. He said he does not
think the changes will hurt him as much as some.
“If the new skis happen, it’s going to be less fun to ski,” said Ligety. “But I don’t think I have a big
disadvantage,” Ligety said. “I think Hirscher and Pinturault have a much greater disadvantage than
I do. Somebody like Aksel has a bigger advantage on me. It’s going to affect me less than some
of the other guys that are smaller and springier. It’s tough to say how it’s going to play out.”
Slalom, Dec. 8
Ivica Kostelic shook off some serious demons when he won the final of six races at Beaver Creek
and collected the first slalom win of the World Cup season.
“I really wanted to win this race,” the defending World Cup overall and slalom champ said. “I had
to settle some old issues with this course.”
The Croatian star has undergone three surgeries due to injuries sustained at Beaver Creek in
years past. He remembers 1999 particularly well. “A couple of times I went out with the ski patrol,”
said Kostelic. “I crashed in ‘99 at the Pump House in February and then crashed again in the
Abyss in November of ‘99. I have been dreaming of the day I might beat this course.”
Paybacks can be sweet. Thursday, in the first slalom actually held for the men this season, Koste-
lic was prototypically good. There was no wasted motion and no discernible errors. He skied clean
and precise to come from a second-place tie after the first run to win by 0.14.
“Kostelic looked amazing today,” said Rearick, “so we’ve got a little work to do to catch him.”
Though maybe not so much work as might be expected.
Italian Cristian Deville got second and said the schedule change might actually have helped him.
The first scheduled slalom was scheduled for Levi, Finland, three weeks ago and was moved to
Flachau Dec. 12. This Beaver Creek race was supposed to take place in France, where snow has
been an issue. Like many of the slalom specialists, Deville was in North America for this single
“I am surprised,” he said. “It was my first race [of the season] and my first podium. I struggled in
Argentina [during summer training]. I injured a ligament in my left foot and stopped skiing for a
month and a half. So I think the delay helped me. I skied like I did last season, but there was never
Hirscher, the only Austrian male with more than one podium on the season and the owner of
the only win for the Austrian men’s team, cemented his status as the team leader with third. Like
Kostelic, he said his relationship with the Birds of Prey course was improving, but admitted: “It is
difficult to ski clean on this course. I made little mistakes.”
The American fans had plenty to cheer about. Nolan Kasper got out of the hospital, where he had
been taken two nights before the race for an IV to deal with a nasty virus; he has been in recovery
mode for the past six months after undergoing hip surgery in August. None of it showed much as
he ran to fourth from the 20th start in the first run and held the position, despite having been left
sprawled in the finish area after negotiating the longest and highest slalom on the Cup circuit.
“I was drinking energy drinks in the start,” he said, “to get some more energy between runs. It is
what it is. You try to pull out as much as you can when you can.”
With seven slaloms scheduled over the next six weeks, he’ll need to be at full strength. Fourth
here would indicate there isn’t that far to go.