- Alpine Skiing
Bode Miller, Ted Ligety behind leaders after Sochi super-combined downhill
Bode Miller’s goal was to use his speed expertise to build a sizable cushion.
Ted Ligety just wanted to keep things close for the second run.
Neither skier got what they were hoping for in the opening downhill run of the men’s super-combined at the Sochi Winter Olympics, meaning the Americans will have a lot of work to do in the slalom if they are to retain gold.
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Miller, the reigning Olympic champion in super-combined, skied to a 12th-place finish in the downhill, 1.43 seconds off the pace. Ligety, the 2006 Olympic champion in the classic combined and reigning super-combined world champion, sits in 18th place, 1.93 seconds back.
Embedded owg_slideshow: Sochi Olympics: Men's super-combined downhill
The leader is Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud, the Sochi downhill bronze medalist and 2010 Olympic silver medalist in giant slalom, who crossed in 1:53.24.
Jansrud is trailed closely by Ondrej Bank of the Czech Republic, winner of the final training run, who was second in 1:53.38. Freshly minted Olympic downhill gold medalist Matthias Mayer of Austria is in third, 0.37 second behind Jansrud.
"All in all happy with my time," Janrud told AP. "I don't think I could have done very much more."
In the days before the race, Mayer voiced his displeasure with the super-combined format, saying that it favors the technical skiers.
"If there are five slalom racers in the competition, they sort out the medals among themselves," he told Reuters.
The Top 10 results, not surprisingly, were jammed with speed specialists. Of note in that group is Ivica Kostelic of Croatia, who sits in seventh place 0.93 seconds behind Jansrud. Kostelic is the strongest slalom skier in the group, and his father Ante, Croatia’s coach, will set the gates for the slalom run.
The start of the race was moved up one hour due forecast warm temperatures and fear of rapidly-deteriorating conditions. Snow appeared to be soft in places, particularly in the turny sections in the Accola valley section of the course, presenting skiers with a considerable challenge.
The list of contenders to struggle includes Croatian Natko Zrncic-Dim, third in the World Cup super-combined in Wengen, who finished 19th and 2.02 seconds behind; and Alexis Pinturault of France, first and second in the two World Cup super-combineds before the Games, who crossed in 22nd place and 2.44 seconds back.
Ligety wasn't thrilled with his run but feels like he still has a puncher's chance at gold.
"I would have liked to have been closer to Ivica for sure and a little bit more ahead than Alexis," Ligety said. "Two seconds is not that much time to make up on downhill guys."
The super-combined will conclude with the slalom run at 6:30 am ET. Watch the livestream here.