Ford Solid Sixth in Adelboden GS
Tommy Ford (Bend, Ore.) continues to show consistency and strength in his skiing, with a sixth place in Adelboden, Switzerland on the legendary - and extremely challenging and technical - Chuenisbärgli slope on Saturday.
On what is regarded one of the most difficult giant slalom tracks on the FIS Ski World Cup tour, Ford displayed a work of art, laying down beautiful arcs and some very composed and confident skiing in the first run, to land in fifth place, .39 seconds off of the leader, Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen. Despite a “one cheek sneak” hip check on a right-ski turn about three-quarters of the way down, Ford remained calm and even made up five tenths in the last split, where many athletes looked exhausted and out of gas.
Starting 26th in the second run, Ford knew his first podium was within reach and took his classic TFord zen moment in the start house before kicking out of the gate with a .05 advantage and guns blazing. Thomas Fanara of France had already laid down a super fast and solid run, but despite some small mistakes, Ford was able to make up some time on Fanara from the second to third split, with a mere .27 second deficit going into the final pitch. Though Ford’s legs were likely screaming, he held it together and crossed the finish line in third, .75 seconds off of Fanara’s pace.
The stage was set for another massive duel between none other than first-run leader Kristoffersen and Austria’s Marcel Hirscher, while Hirscher was determined to establish himself as the king of giant slalom once again, and he did just that. Kristoffersen finished in second, by a whopping .71 seconds, while Fanara rounded out the podium in third, 1.04 seconds back.
"It was a good fight...kind of a rattly second run," Ford said. "My legs - I could feel them there - you probably saw my head bobbing a couple of times. The weather was all over the place, but all in all, I'm keeping it consistent...the speed is there."
Adelboden’s Chuenisbärgli slope has not necessarily been a favorite of Ford’s in the past. In fact, his previous best result at Adelboden was 19th place in 2017. Of his career six starts on the track, he has DNF’d three times. Ford’s sixth-place finish at Adelboden is further proof that he is skiing more balanced and consistent than ever, in what has been the most successful season of his career.
In six starts so far this season - five giant slalom and one parallel giant slalom - Ford has finished no higher than 16th place. In giant slalom, his worst finish has been 14th - both at Saalbach-Hinterglemm, Austria and Beaver Creek, Colorado. His other three finishes?! Sixth in Adelboden, fifth in Alta Badia, Italy, and sixth in Val d’Isere, France. Ford now sits in ninth in the giant slalom title race. In what is an incredibly deep and talented men's tech field, these results are nothing short of impressive.
The giant slalom skiers have a little bit of a break between now and their next race in Garmisch, Germany on February 3rd, so Ford will take time to rest and recharge. "Sleep a little, lift a little, see Laurenne for a couple of days, and maybe do some super-G (FIS races)," Ford commented in regards to what's next, after his second run Saturday.
For the Americans, Ted Ligety (Park City, Utah) also finished in the points, landing in 16th. "First run was pretty bad, especially on the bottom here," Ligety reflected. "Second run was a step in the right direction, but there's still a lot of work to be done...just kind of stuck in this little vicious cycle, so I need to break that right now." Ligety will head to Wengen, Switzerland next for the alpine combined. "My slalom has been feeling good, so for combined, things could look good. Then, we're having a little break and then going to train for a couple of days before Garmisch."
Ligety has been dealing with a little bit of a nagging back issue since the giant slalom in Alta Badia, Italy, "It's the same area on my back...I don't have radiating sciatica down my leg or anything, I just popped a disc out pretty good - so I'm just dealing with that. It feels OK...definitely on the vulnerable side," Ligety said.
Ryan Cochran-Siegle (Starksboro, Vt.), Nick Krause (Northboro, Mass.), Brian McLaughlin (Topsfield, Mass) and River Radamus (Edwards, Colo.) also started but did not qualify for a second run. Up next, the men will ski slalom on Sunday in Adelboden.
Men’s giant slalom
HOW TO WATCH
All times EST
Sunday, Jan. 13
4:15 a.m. - Men’s slalom run 1 - Adelboden, SUI - OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
7:30 a.m. - Men’s slalom run 2 - Adelboden, SUI - Olympic Channel-TV, OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold