How he did it was precision. Feuz found time the entire length of the two-mile combined downhill.
But super combined includes a run of slalom, and the extent of the young Swiss skier’s slalom season
had been forerunning at Adelboden. Miller, sitting second and currently a 10-point slalom skier, had a
shot, but three-quarters of a second is a lot of time to make up. The first skier with a better slalom point
profile in the downhill finish order was Benjamin Raich in 14th, a light year away — 2. 25 seconds off the
pace. The No. 1 slalom skier and the defending champion of the race, Ivica Kostelic, was 2.96 back, a
clocking that gave him considerable pause.
“Being basically three full seconds behind I wrote off, more or less, any possibility of winning today,”
Kostelic said. “It was a short slalom and I think the setting was quite easy and the snow wasn’t super
commanding.” All of these things, he and others supposed, were in favor of the speed skiers.
That wasn’t going to stop him from trying, however, and being 23rd after the downhill meant he would
start eighth before the snow got too chewed up by other skiers. Croatian star Kostelic attacked the
slalom hill in full. It was, he said, “one of my best runs ever,” and, as expected, he took the lead before
settling in to watch, along with some 20,000 spectators, as 22 others tried to overtake him.
Alexis Pinturault made a good bid, as did Ted Ligety and Croatian teammate Natko Zrncic-Dim, but
Kostelic’s lead stayed at eight-tenths of a second right up until Miller and Feuz.
“From the moment I came out of the starting gate I knew it was not going to be a good day,” said Miller,
who called his slalom leg “miserable,” explaining that his slalom ski setup is designed for ultimate
speed and not for making recoveries. He got caught on his inside ski and, he said, needed three or four
gates to get back on the line.
Likewise, Feuz said a mistake near the bottom of the slalom cost him. “I caught my inside ski and
my confidence left me for a while,” he said. By the time he recovered the victory had slipped from his
grasp, robbing the Swiss of their third combined winner in the only Swiss combined race in 20 years.
Kostelic was stunned. His slalom run, he said, was almost perfect. “One of those slalom runs that do
not come in the season so often,” he said. “That is why I am surprised, but also so happy with my victory.”
Feuz got second and Miller third. Ligety rebounded from a lackluster downhill. “I wasn’t clean or very
good anywhere, but I wasn’t bad anywhere either,” said Ligety, who posted sixth. Aksel Lund Svindal
was a disappointing 19th, all of which played with the top end of the overall World Cup standings. Marcel Hirscher held on to the lead after his early January blitz (one win at Zagreb and two at Adelboden)
while Kostelic chunked into that lead in second, Ligety sat third, Svindal fourth, Feuz fifth and Miller
Downhill, Jan. 14
With the very local Feuz and Swiss star Didier Cuche both listed among favorites for the downhill win
and a bright sunny day on tap, the population of Wengen swelled with 38,000 flag-waving spectators