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Vail's Schleper takes big step toward 4th Olympic Games with 8th in GS
Vail's Sarah Schleper on Saturday earned her first top-10 since the 2006 Olympics.

Vail's Schleper takes big step toward 4th Olympic Games with 8th in GS

Ligety 2nd in World Cup super-G; Miller 9th

December 12, 2009 —  ARE, Sweden – Starting from 19th place in her second run on a cloudy Saturday in Are, Sarah Schleper (Vail, CO) likely didn’t imagine she was on the way to her best giant slalom finish in almost five years. The American veteran carved a picture-perfect final leg in 1:11.58 for the fastest second run to take an early lead and finish out eighth.

"I just skied clean and (I’ve) been doing what I’ve been doing in training, and that seemed to pay off today. I couldn’t have asked for a better second run," Schleper said of her first top 10 since before the Olympics in 2006.

The early favorites held their ground, however, with France’s Tessa Worley taking top honors after a blazing first run (1:10.55) and Slovenian Tina Maze rallying late to steal the second place spot from event master Kathrin Zettel of Austria.

"The snow was actually breaking down quite a bit," she said. "You don’t feel it while you’re going down, but the times get really slow as they go toward the later racers, and it happened in both rounds."

Three-time World Cup giant slalom runner-up Julia Mancuso (Olympic Valley, CA) – 12th after her first run – finished 16th, 2.77 seconds back.

Two-time defending World Cup overall champion Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) fell in her first run, tumbling side over side after missing an early gate on her first run.

Vonn, coming off two downhill wins and a second-place finish in the super G at Lake Louise, Alberta, last weekend, has never made the podium in a World Cup giant slalom, where her best finish was fourth in Aspen last November.

Jessica Kelley (Starksboro, VT), Megan McJames (Park City, UT) and Sterling Grant (Amery, WI) missed out on qualifying for the finals.

Another technical event awaits the speedy Vonn in tomorrow’s slalom, again in Are.

Fans can watch live at

Ligety second in super-G

VAL d’ISERE, France (Dec. 12) – Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) paced the U.S. Ski Team in Val d’Isere on Saturday morning with a second-place finish, the best of his career in a super G.

"He’s a phenomenal technical skier, and he brought it out today in a very tough race, one of the toughest races I’ve ever seen," said Men's Alpine Team Head Coach Sasha Rearick.

Indeed, Ligety’s run wasn’t mistake-free, but the rest of the field endured worse struggles.

"It never felt good the entire way down the course, but to be in second place now is pretty good," Ligety said. "It was just a struggle today, nobody was gonna feel good, so I was able to use my GS skills and have a decent-enough run."

Ligety’s previous high was a seventh-place finish at Beaver Creek in December 2008.

Amazingly, the giant slalom specialist wasn’t even pleased after laying down a 1:21.06 that bested the first 16 skiers.

"That’s not gonna hold up," Ligety said at the finish.

He was right, Austria’s Michael Walchhofer took a lead nobody could refuse with a 1:20.78.

Still, Ligety said he was pleased to get on the podium after a run that saw his hip brush with the unpacked powder on the side of the course.

"My super G’s been going really well, and especially a hill like this that’s steep, I feel like I have a good chance," he said.

The 2005 super G world champion, Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) failed in his bid to win a sixth career World Cup super G, but his run still was fast enough to garner a tie for ninth, 1.67 off Walchhofer’s pace.

"Bode skied solid," Rearick said. "He hasn’t taken many runs on the super G skis. I think this was his fifth run on the super G skis since he’s come back."

A day removed from a fifth place in the super combined, the two-time World Cup overall champion was the 24th skier out on a choppy course for a ninth-place finish.

"For him to come down and be in the top 10 is a good day, solid skiing, but he’s got more speed than that, and we’ll look forward to getting that speed out of him here," Rearick said.

Marco Sullivan (Squaw Valley, CA), Jeremy Transue (Hunter, NY), Erik Fisher (Middleton, ID), Jake Zamansky (Aspen, CO), Tommy Ford (Bend, OR), and Andrew Weibrecht (Lake Placid, NY) did not finish for the U.S.

"You just had to fight your way down, and you were lucky if you made it to the finish line," said Ligety, who added that he expected to be two seconds behind after his career-best run.

Switzerland’s Carlo Janko maintained his overall lead in the standings despite failing to finish, while Austria’s Benjamin Raich inched closer to the leader with fifth place and 45 points.

Ligety will get a chance to further improve his performance at Val d’Isere in Sunday’s giant slalom, a discipline for which he captured the World Cup title in 2008.

Fans can watch live at

Val D’Isere, France – Dec. 12, 2009
Men’s Super G

1. Michael Walchhofer, Austria, 1:20.78
2. Ted Ligety, Park City, UT, 1:21.06
3. Werner Heel, Italy, 1:21.53
4. Patrick Staudacher, Italy, 1:21.92
5. Benjamin Raich, Austria, 1:21.95
9. Bode Miller, Franconia, NH, 1:22.45
DNF: Marco Sullivan (Squaw Valley, CA); Jeremy Transue (Hunter, NY); Erik Fisher (Middleton, ID); Jake Zamansky (Aspen, CO); Tommy Ford (Bend, OR); Andrew Weibrecht (Lake Placid, NY)

Are, Sweden – Dec. 12, 2009
Women’s Giant Slalom

1. Tessa Worley, France, 2:23.22
2. Tina Maze, Slovenia, 2:23.79
3. Kathrin Zettel, Austria, 2:23.91
4. Federica Brignone, Italy, 2:24.33
5. Kathrin Hoelzl, Germany, 2:24.70
8. Sarah Schleper, Vail, CO, 2:24.94
16. Julia Mancuso, Olympic Valley, CA, 2:25.99
DNQ: Jessica Kelley, Starksboro, VT; Megan McJames, Park City, UT; Sterling Grant, Amery, WI



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