American Alpine team continues struggles
February 14, 2014
Krasnaya Polyana, Russia — The struggles for the American Alpine team continued Friday at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center.
This time another big American favorite couldn't live up to expectations.
World Cup super combined leader Ted Ligety struggled in the downhill and slalom courses, eventually finishing 12th.
"I definitely skied way too conservatively," Ligety said afterward. "That's frustrating. I would have much rather blown out and be on the line of being fast than done what I did today. I respected the course too much."
Sandro Veletta, of Switzerland, was the most consistent skier, winning gold. Croatia's Ivica Kostelic was second, and Italy's Christof Innerhofer was third.
Whether it was the course or expectations, the Americans struggled.
Defending gold medalist Bode Miller was the top American in sixth place. Jared Goldberg was 11th, and Andrew Weibrecht skied out of the top portion of the course and did not finish.
Course setter Ante Kostelic, of Croatia's unorthodox sets, lived up to his reputation.
Most skiers struggled either in losing control or time toward the top section of the course.
"It was not that rhythmical and sort of an obstacle course," Weibrecht said.
Time, though, was lost in the morning’s downhill portion of the event.
Miller had the 12th fastest downhill, while Ligety was 18th.
"I skied well, but had I been a second faster (in the downhill) and that puts me on the podium, then I should have skied a second faster in the slalom and been on the podium,” Miller said.
The podium remains an elusive thing for the Americans.
Through four events here in Krasnaya Polyana, expectations haven't been the United States' friend.
Miller, after strong training runs, was expected to podium in the downhill event. Mistakes toward the top of the course and flat light left him grasping for answers.
After Julia Mancuso won America's lone medal in the women's super combined, a bronze, she struggled in Wednesday's downhill where she was a favorite.
On Friday, it was Ligety, who came into the event with two World Cup podiums in two super combineds this year.
Ligety said in inspection, the snow at the top of the course was icy. After watching several skiers ski out of the course early on, he said he made the decision to ski more defensive.
"That 10 or 15 percent less I went cost (me) a ton of time," Ligety said. "I didn't match the intensity of what it took to get a medal."
The United States still has a chance to turn things around. Miller (super G), Ligety (giant slalom) and Vail's Mikaela Shiffrin (slalom and giant slalom) all should have a chance for the podium.