BEAVER CREEK – An overnight storm had decked the infamous Birds of Prey Slalom course with more than a foot of snow proceeding the World Cup's final day of racing.
This made for some precarious runs for Sunday's Slalom race with seven of the top 15 Men's Slalom racers blowing out of the course, including American Bode Miller who ended his weekend unsuccessfully when he skidded off-course 20 seconds into his first run.
It seemed unlikely for the U.S. Ski Team to stand on the podium for a third consecutive day until 21-year-old Ted Ligety, whose career-best in Slalom had previously been eighth, stepped up to the challenge.
"I didn't want to leave anything up there. I had to put away the fear to spark some nice turns," Ligety said.
Ligety capped a historic weekend for the U.S. Ski Team by taking the bronze in the opening Slalom of the 2005-06 World Cup campaign.
"I was glad to be able to carry the torch for another day," Ligety said.
Italy's Giorgio Rocca claimed the gold, displaying a little bit of national pride for the upcoming 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy.
Rocca was 0.86 seconds ahead of the runner-up Stephane Tissot of France.
Ligety's pink goggles, as he stated, brought him good luck on a day when snow and intermittent winds put several racers in their second run on hold.
"The wind blowing uphill held my start. It was mentally tough, but I knew I could be faster if I let it all fall out," Ligety said.
And with a gutsy second run, Ligety proved the talent pool for the U.S. Ski Team is just beginning to reach its potential with its young skiers.
This weekend women on the U.S. Ski Team showcased their young talent at the World Cup in Lake Louise.
21-year-old Lindsey Kildow, won a Downhill race Saturday, placed fifth in a Downhill Friday, and was sixth in Super-G on Sunday.
Five U.S. Women finished in the top 14 Sunday – Kildow, Kristen Clark, Libby Ludlow, Caroline Lalive and Julia Mancuso- and three were in the top ten Friday.
The women head to Aspen for a Super-G on Friday, Giant Slalom on Saturday, and Slalom on Sunday and the men travel to Val d'lsere, France for a Downhill on Saturday and a Downhill-Slalom combined event on Sunday.