France’s Lizeroux wins WCup slalom; Miller 14th
ADELBODEN, Switzerland – An inspired second run propelled Julien Lizeroux of France from 12th place after the first leg to victory in a World Cup slalom on Sunday on the Kuonisbaergli course, where Bode Miller was the top American in 14th.
The 30-year-old Frenchman had a combined time of 1 minute, 51.88 seconds after slicing through the gates 0.92 seconds faster than any rival the second time down the course.
Austria’s Marcel Hirscher was second, 0.34 back, and Croatia’s Ivica Kostelic trailed Lizeroux by 0.80 in third.
“No one could beat Julien with his crazy second run,” Kostelic said. “To ski without mistakes, and so fast, is the perfection which all of us are looking for.”
Miller trailed Lizeroux by 2.38 seconds after being ninth-fastest in the morning.
The 32-year-old Miller, a former two-time World Cup overall winner, is still searching for race fitness after an ankle injury and missing offseason work while he considered retiring.
“I lose weight slowly,” he joked after his first run. “I will get fit over the next month and hopefully I will be ready for the Olympics.”
Teammates Ted Ligety and Jimmy Cochran skied out at the same spot midway down the second run, which was set by U.S. technical coach Rudi Soulard.
Lizeroux earned his third career World Cup win, dashing out to the finish area and yelling with satisfaction when the victory was confirmed. He then blew kisses to a typically noisy Swiss crowd that roared back its approval.
Lizeroux had no idea he was skiing so quickly.
“I just ski 100 percent all the time, I don’t think too much,” said Lizeroux, who won silver medals in slalom and super-combined at the world championships last season. In that super-combi at Val d’Isere, France, he was 22nd after the downhill run then leaped on to the podium with the fastest slalom time.
“The day you think you made the perfect run, there is somebody who can beat you,” he said.
First-run leader Mattias Hargin of Sweden placed fifth, 1.11 seconds back after his second run was more than 2 seconds slower than Lizeroux.
Lizeroux, who finished third on Wednesday in Zagreb, Croatia, trails Austria’s Reinfried Herbst by four points in the World Cup slalom standings.
Herbst was second after the first run but skied out while leading by 0.07 at the final split time. He holds a 245-241 advantage over Lizeroux in the discipline.
Benjamin Raich extended his lead in the overall standings after placing fourth.
The 31-year-old Austrian has 639 points, 62 more than Switzerland’s Carlo Janka, who did not complete the first run Sunday.
Kostelic, who was second in the season-opening slalom at Levi, Finland, returned to the podium less than four weeks after knee surgery.
He was third in the opening run of Saturday’s giant slalom, which was abandoned when thick fog smothered the course.
“The knee was holding really well (so) today I just went 100 percent,” the 30-year-old Croat said.
Racers competed under clear blue skies in the morning, but the setting sun was blocked out by gathering fog in the afternoon.
“It was a tough run because visibility was quite limited,” Lizeroux said.