Ted Ligety: Olympic slalom setup was ‘borderline unsportsmanlike’
Ted Ligety and a number of other Olympic skiers were infuriated by the course setup for the men’s slalom event on Saturday night. The course, which was created by Croatian coach Ante Kostelic, was so difficult that 34 of 77 skiers failed to finish or were disqualified in their second run.
“Ante set a really typical Ante course set, which is borderline unsportsmanlike to set those kinds of courses on these kinds of hills,” Ligety said, according to Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports. “That’s how it goes. Everybody had to ski it. Not all the best guys had a chance to make it down, unfortunately. … Not really the most ideal venue for having a course that wasn’t the most fair thing in the world.”
Ligety finished his first run just .11 seconds behind third place, so he had a chance to contend for a medal heading into the final run. However, the course setup got the best of him. Kostelic’s son Ivica Kostelic captured the silver medal in the event, which Ligety said raised an “ethical question.”
“You saw up there, there’s a hairpin [turn] into another hairpin,” he said. “But one was really straight, going into another one that was super turn-y. That was what took out most of the field right there. It’s just not a course set that you can ski in a typical modern technique.”
Kostelic’s course featured gates that were varying distances and extremely sharp turns. The track was also set over the runs of previous races, which made it extremely icy and slick. Ivica defended his father’s “old school” course.
“This course will show the difference between a very good slalom skier and those who belong to the second league,” Ivica said.
Coaches who have a skier in the top 15 rankings can bid for a chance to set up a course, and Kostelic was allowed to set up two in Sochi. Ligety was not the only athlete upset with the circumstances, as France’s Alexis Pinturault said the course was “too much” and that it is “not normal” for someone to set two races in one Olympics.
Fortunately, Ligety won a gold medal earlier in the week in the giant slalom event. He’ll be going home with some hardware either way.