After several weeks in North America, both the women and men of the U.S. alpine team looked as if they missed the home cooking in their debuts in Europe.
U.S. stars Ted Ligety and Bode Miller failed to finish either of this week’s Audi FIS World Cup races in Val d’Isere, but Sunday’s slalom was a coming-out party for American David Chodounsky.
Chodounsky, a slalom specialist for the U.S. alpine team member since 2009, coupled a solid first run with the fourth-fastest second run to finish seventh – less than a second behind winner Mario Matt of Austria. Neither Ligety nor Miller, coming off a one-two finish in the last week’s giant slalom at Beaver Creek, got to the second run of either Saturday’s giant slalom or Sunday’s slalom.
“Val d’Isere is really tough,” said Chodounsky, a native of Minnesota and two-time NCAA slalom champ at Dartmouth, was quoted on the U.S. Team website. “It’s steep. The snow was really hard and inconsistent. It was grippy in spots and invariable. I feel like tactically and technically I’m skiing really well. So this hill worked for me.”
Matt’s victory – his 10th slalom win in 14 years on the World Cup circuit -- solidified his World Cup slalom lead. Despite his Val d’Isere result, Ligety remained in third place in the overall World Cup standings.
The giant slalom went to Austria’s Marcel Hirscher, who is second in overall World Cup points. France’s Thomas Fanara finished 0.76 behind Hirsher, with Stefan Luitz of Germany third.
Next week, the men’s tours moves to Val Gardena, Italy, for the challenging Saslong downhill.
Women in St. Moritz
In St. Moritz, Tessa Worley of France won both runs of Sunday’s giant slalom, while American veteran Julia Mancuso finished 12th for her best result of the Audi FIS World Cup season.
In Saturday’s super-G, Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather reached the top of the podium for the first this season, beating out Sweden’s Kajsa Kling and Anna Fenniger of Austria. American Stacey Cook finished 16th – her best finish in super-G this season. U.S. star Lindsey Vonn didn’t make the trip to Switzerland, choosing to rehab her knee in preparation for the Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Mancuso, of Squaw Valley, Calif., had the seventh-fastest first run behind Worley, who had the fastest times on both runs and moved into third place in the women’s World Cup giant slalom standings.
“(Julia) feels really comfortable now, so it's just building confidence, training and getting used to it,” said Alex Hoedlmoser, women's alpine head coach. “It was a big step forward today.”
Skiing in her third World Cup event, American Megan McJames earned her first FIS points with a 23rd place finish. U.S. slalom star Micheala Schriffin skied out of the first run.
The women’s tour splits next weekend, with slalom specialists heading to Courchevel, France, and speed teams taking on the downhill at Val d’Isere.
Photo: David Chodounsky (David Chodounsky.com)