- Alpine Skiing
Another course controversy as nearly half the field fails to finish second run of men's slalom
ROSA KHUTOR, Russia -- American Ted Ligety branded the Olympic men's slalom course 'borderline unsportsmanlike' on Saturday and questioned the ethics of allowing a father to set it when his son was competing.
Five of the top 10 contenders after the floodlit first leg failed to finish the tricky second run set by Croatia's Ante Kostelic, father of multiple silver medalist Ivica and former women's champion Janica.
- Full event replay – Slalom Run 1
- Full event replay – Slalom Run 2
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- Analysis: How Austria was able to go 1-2 in men’s slalom
- Ted Ligety unable to overcome mistakes, skis out in 2nd run
- David Chodousnky skis out in the first run of slalom
- Nolan Kasper of the U.S. finishes 13th in slalom
- Felix Neureuther of Germany skis out in 2nd run
- Hubertus von Hohenlohe all smiles after DNF in slalom
Ligety, the giant slalom gold medalist who had been sixth after the first leg that was set by Germany's Albert Doppelhofer, was one of those caught out by the conditions and quirky settings Kostelic is renowned for.
"That was just a difficult course set," the triple world champion, and only U.S. male skier to win two Olympic golds, told reporters.
"The snow's just really bad and Ante set a really difficult, typical Ante course set which is borderline unsportsmanlike...in these kind of hills. But that's how it goes. Everybody had to ski it."
Embedded owg_slideshow: Sochi Olympics: Men's Slalom Run 2
Ligety said the setting - the number of gates and how they are positioned - was within the rules but unorthodox.
"He has really variable distance, he sets into cross ruts from the run before, he sets really awkward rhythm changes, there's a hairpin to a hairpin but one that was really straight going into another that was super turny," he said.
"That was what took out most of the field right there. It's just not a course set that you can ski in a typical modern technique."
Ante Kostelic also set the slalom for the super-combined, in which his son won silver last week. Ivica finished ninth in Saturday's slalom, the last race of the Alpine program.
"I think it draws an ethical question when you have a dad setting for a son, not that Ivica ever does well on his dad's sets," continued Ligety.
Ante Kostelic, in a terse response to a question, reminded reporters of the Olympic motto: "Citius, altius, fortius (faster, higher, stronger). That's all," he declared.
Embedded owg_slideshow: Sochi Olympics: Men's Slalom Run 1
Ivica was more willing to take up the cudgels, however.
"We will hear a lot about this course in days to come. Even if it's negative, it's good for skiing. But if you look closely, it cannot be negative," he said.
"It was a spectacle for the spectators and a challenge for the racers. That's all there is in sport. This is what we are looking for. Especially at the Olympic Games."
Ivica Kostelic suggested the course had allowed Austrian Marcel Hirscher, the overall World Cup leader, to leap from ninth after the first leg to the silver medal position.
"He cannot make a difference on a course that is easy. It's like if a football goal was five meters wider and two meters higher, there would be no (David) Beckham. Everybody would be Beckham," he said.
"After the first run, I said to my father - because the first run was a school run - 'Dad, don't hesitate.' I was thinking to myself we need to balance things out here. Because we are looking for the Olympic champion, not the school champion."
While some skiers were supportive of the course setter, with Frenchman Alexis Pinturault falling heavily but saying it was up to the skiers to adapt to the setting and conditions, others were less so.
Even Austrian Mario Matt, who won the gold to become the oldest Alpine champion, was surprised by what he had faced.
"We are used to tricky course settings but today I have not seen anything like that in my career and I've been skiing a long time," said the 34-year-old.
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