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Austria's Mario Matt skis during the first run of the men's slalom at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati)
Olympics: Ted Ligety accepts his unfinished ending in slalom
Alpine skiing » Park City native criticizes course he couldn’t hold in second run
First Published Feb 22 2014 07:26 am • Last Updated Feb 22 2014 09:48 pm

Krasnaya Polyana, Russia • Ted Ligety is familiar with this ending.

For the third Olympics in a row, the Park City skier failed to complete two runs of the slalom, the concluding event of Alpine skiing in the Games.

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He’ll leave Russia feeling great, having won a gold medal in Wednesday’s giant slalom. But he questioned a course setup that made the slalom’s second run "a battle of attrition."

Austria’s Mario Matt won the event. Nolan Kasper, a part-time Park City resident, finished 13th. Logan High School graduate Conor Lyne, skiing for Ireland, placed 40th among the 43 racers who completed two runs — in a starting field of 117.

Ligety stood sixth after the first run, but was among 12 of the top 30 skiers who didn’t finish the second run. As he did last week following the slalom portion of the super-combined event, Ligety criticized course setter Ante Kostelic for making the gate placements too demanding and inconsistent, preventing rhythmic skiing on poor snow conditions. He labeled the setup "borderline unsportsmanlike" for the second run.

"We’re trying to showcase our sport to the rest of the world," Ligety said, "and I don’t think this does us any favors."

Ligety said having the father of Croatian skier Ivica Kostelic set the Olympic course raises "ethical questions," although Kostelic finished ninth.

Kasper succeeded in making it down the course, but he said, "I haven’t skied anything like this in my life."

In the 2006 Olympics, Ligety was among the favorites in the slalom, but barely straddled a gate in the first run and was disqualified after a video review, without complaint. In 2010, he missed a gate in the first run.

This time, he liked his medal chances after the first run. He was 0.86 seconds behind Matt, but only 0.11 seconds out of third place. Yet Ligety was so satisfied with his GS performance under the pressure of being the favorite that he could dismiss the second-run missed gate, not being expected to medal.

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"It’s not that big of a bummer," he said. "I would like to have done better, and I put myself in a good position to have a chance, but this course set was difficult."

Ligety’s 2014 summary is 12th in the super combined event, 14th in the super-G, first in the GS and DNF in the slalom.

Kasper’s 13th-place finish was a breakthrough for him, after having missed about 250 days of skiing over three seasons, due to injury. In the second run, "I definitely wasn’t super-psyched with how I skied that opening combination series, but I was happy with how I skied the rest of the way," he said.

Beyond the Alpine team’s five medals, U.S. coaches liked the Olympic showings of skiers such as Travis Ganong, Jared Goldberg and Kasper.


Twitter: @tribkurt

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