Sunday, February 12, 2012
Ivica Kostelic wins title but hurts knee
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia -- Ivica Kostelic captured his second consecutive World Cup super-combined title with a victory Sunday on the 2014 Sochi Olympics course, then hobbled off with an injured right knee that that might need surgery.
The Croatian was in visible pain during the victory celebration, using his ski poles like crutches and struggling onto the podium on the verge of tears while sister Janica looked on crying.
"You saw he could not walk," Croatia team spokesman Vedran Pavlek said. "He could not extend his knee."
Moving up from 15th after the downhill leg, Kostelic put down the fastest slalom run for a combined time of 2 minutes, 50.21 seconds. He pumped his fist when he crossed the finish line, but then the pain set in.
Kostelic was injured during the initial portion of the slalom, and Pavlek said surgery was possible. The team said an initial MRI in Krasnaya "detected no vital new damage," adding the pain could be from "heavy knee joint stress." Kostelic will head have a second MRI in Basel, Switzerland, on Monday and an evaluation will be made then, the team added.
All of the Americans entered went out in the slalom run. Bode Miller was fourth after the downhill portion but failed to make a gate on the top, while Ted Ligety and Will Brandenburg straddled on the bottom.
This was Kostelic's sixth win this season and the 24th of his career. He also now has five crystal globes for World Cup titles -- one large one from last season's overall victory and four smaller ones for discipline titles, two in super-combined and two in slalom.
Beat Feuz of Switzerland dropped from first after the downhill leg to finish second, 1.16 seconds behind, and Thomas Mermillod Blondin of France was third, 1.77 back.
Feuz won the downhill Saturday and would have won the super-combined title if he had also won this race. Now, depending on Kostelic's status, Feuz could be poised to win the overall World Cup title.
With six more stops on the circuit this season, Kostelic holds a 70-point lead over Feuz in the overall standings, with Austria's Marcel Hirscher third, 218 points back.
Kostelic won the super-combined title with 336 points, 36 ahead of Feuz.
"I'm very sorry for Ivica," Feuz said. "I really hope it's not so bad and that he's able to join us again soon. He's a great champion and I hope he's not in too much pain."
In his downhill run, Feuz soared into the air for about 80 yards off the Rosa Khutor slope's biggest jump, landing outside the blue paint that outlines the course.
"The downhill was good but the slalom was really difficult for me, but I've got another podium finish and I couldn't dream for a better season," said Feuz, who held all of his fingers out wide during the post-race celebration to celebrate his 10th podium finish of the season.
It was the second podium of Mermillod Blondin's career, having also finished third in a super-combined in Bansko, Bulgaria, last season.
"It's a very good thing to be on the podium here two years before the Olympic Games on the same slope," the Frenchman said.
The downhill and slalom courses are next to each other, and share the same finish area. Both runs were held in flat light with only a few hundred fans on hand because of heavy security.
The men's circuit now moves to Bansko, Bulgaria, although the top men will be back in Russia for a special parallel race in Moscow on Feb. 21. The women's circuit arrives and begins downhill training there Wednesday.
Feuz is planning to skip the technical races in Bansko before returning to the circuit in Moscow.