Kostelic wins SC in grand fashion
by Vanessa Pierce, www.fisalpine.com
Wengen, Switzerland (Sports Network) - No one expected it, including 2011 Overall World Cup Champion Ivica Kostelic. He stormed from a 2.96-second disadvantage after the downhill here to win the Audi FIS Ski World Cup Men's Super Combined.
Starting the slalom in reverse order, Kostelic skied seventh - yet the disadvantage didn't sway him. The Croatian put down what he called one of his "best runs ever" and anxiously watched as 22 competitors went down the course after him. No one could touch the racer who proved once again that he earned his 2011 Overall World Cup title. Today he secured his fifth career win in Wengen (three slaloms, 2 super combined wins).
After the downhill run, the leaders were Switzerland's Beat Fuez in first and U.S.'s Bode Miller in second. Murmurs around the stadium seemed to favor Miller - the 2010 Lauberhorn super combined winner and best all-around skier in alpine history - to seal the deal. As Miller crossed the finish, there were gasps in the crowd. He didn't beat Kostelic's time, nor did Fuez, who came down last. Feuz's .78 advantage over Miller after the downhill allowed him a little wiggle room - even after a solid slalom run - and he bested the U.S. racer by .25 seconds to get second. Miller was third.
"I guess no one would put money on me after the downhill," Kostelic said, joking after the race. "I didn't expect this victory at all...but fortunately, I can say I had one of my best [slalom] runs ever."?
He wouldn't reiterate that sentiment regarding his downhill run. "I made a mistake at the top after the Minschkante, not 3 seconds [worth] though." He, instead, says the issue with today's downhill is actually something he has been struggling with this season - gliding. "This year I've lost a lot of time in the flat parts, and today is no exception."
But with the downhill behind him, he relied on his slalom specialties - skiing a rhythmic, and even artistic second run - to clinch the win. Croatian coaches and staff surrounding Kostelic in the leader box nearly pig piled him upon the news of his win - Kostelic said his heart almost fell out of his chest in surprise and excitement.
Feuz - who has five podiums this season, including a super G win in Val Gardena - said he was pleased by his performance, which was aided by an enthusiastic home country crowd. "I love it," he said. "I love skiing in front of my home crowd." Adding: "The good thing about today - nobody came close to my [downhill] time."
On the other hand, Miller skied a solid downhill but was extremely frustrated by his slalom. He made a mistake that knocked him on his heels early in the run, and then - uncharacteristic of him - cautiously skied the last gates.
"He's frustrated by that because it's not the way he likes to ski," said U.S. Ski Team Head Coach Sasha Rearick. "He wants to be able to ski inspirationally where he's pushing the limits of the sport and today he was holding within himself and that's why he's bummed...but it's still a podium."
The Lauberhorn races continue tomorrow with the downhill. Feuz might be the one to watch, feeling confident after today's result. When asked if he might be a podium contender tomorrow, he said he will hold off on picking up his prize money tonight. "The way I skied downhill today, I think I have a little chance to be on the podium tomorrow so, yes, I will collect my prize money then."
OFFICIAL RESULTS - Wengen, Switzerland
Men's Super Combined
1. Ivica Kostelic, CRO, 2:42.16; 2. Beat Feuz, SUI, 2:42.36; 3. Bode Miller, USA, 2:42.61; 4. Alexis Pinturault, FRA, 2:42.75; 5. Natko Zrncic-Dim, CRO, 2:42.95; 6. Ted Ligety, USA, 2:42.97; 7. Benjamin Raich, AUT, 2:43.27; 8. Dominik Paris, ITA,2:43.39; 9. Kjetil Jansrud, NOR, 2:43.69; 10. Matteo Marsaglia, ITA, 2:43.89.
Other North Americans
Did not finish 2nd run
Will Brandenburg, USA; Tim Jitloff, USA.
Did not finish 1st run
Louis-Pierre Helie, CAN; Ryan Semple, CAN
01/13 13:11:26 ET