JB’ Grange leads pack after slalom leg of super combined
A week after having achieved his wildest dream at Garmisch-Partenkirchen clinching the slalom world title, France’s Jean Baptiste Grange confirmed his brilliant shape in Bansko dominating the slalom run of the last super combined of the season. Despite starting in 16th position and moving on a damaged course, the 26-year-old skier from Valloire beat by 28/100 of a second his German colleague Christian Neureuther and by 37/100 Italy’s Manfred Moelgg, the bronze medallist in Garmisch-Partenkirchen last Sunday.
The winner in the last two world cup slaloms at Kitzbühel and Schladming, Grange struggled a little in the upper part of the steep Banderiza run but he was clearly the fastest man on the lower part of the course. “I feel relaxed this morning and it gave me much momentum, I’m happy to take again part in a Super-combined event, it has been a long time I didn’t do one,” said Grange after his run. “This slalom leg will for sure help me to better handle tomorrow’s slalom race. I reached my main goals so far this season and I have nothing to lose now, I'll just try my best in the Super-G run this afternoon,” ‘JB’ added.
Overall world cup leader Ivica Kostelic, unbeaten in the combined events so far this winter, clocked the 4th fastest time 61/100 behind Grange and seems ready to celebrate his 8th triumph this season after the Super-G leg scheduled form this afternoon.
“The snow conditions were quite difficult and the run really long and turny, so it was pretty tough this morning, you had to fight hard pushing all the time your skis in front of you,” said the skier from Zagreb. “I hope to Super-G run will be better.”
His teammate Natko Zrncic-Dim has also a strong chance to reach his second consecutive podium in that discipline as he came in 5th only a few hundredths behind Ivica. Ondrej Bank from the Czech Republic is also a strong candidate for a spot on the podium as he finished a close 6th.
The reigning Super-combined world champion Aksel Lund Svindal didn’t travel to Bansko in order to rest an injured knee. Italy’s Christof Innerhofer, 11th in the slalom leg nearly a second and a half behind Grange is still aiming for a top-5 finish in the final classification.
Local skier Georgi Georgiev clocked a promising 17th time which should allow him to also score a few points this afternoon after a good Super-G leg. Only forty skiers end the slalom run this morning.
Contributed by Patrick Lang