Nolan Kasper ignites the crowd with a stunning second run in Beaver Creek (U.S. Ski Team/Tom Kelly)
BEAVER CREEK, CO (Dec. 8) - Olympian Nolan Kasper (Warren, VT) fought through a nasty virus that hospitalized him less than 36 hours ago to finish fourth in the Audi Birds of Prey slalom. It was also Kasper's first complete race since undergoing hip surgery in September and returning to snow in nearby Vail on Nov. 1. Reigning Audi FIS World Cup overall champion Ivica Kostelic of Croatia captured the victory, a slight .14 in front of Italian Cristian Deville. Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) was 13th and Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) 27th. The race closed a six race series in Beaver Creek that saw Miller win a downhill, Ligety win a giant slalom and take second in another and Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) capture a historic super G win on her home snow.
Nolan Kasper was fourth in the first Audi FIS Alpine World Cup slalom of the season
Kasper had been battling a virus that had him in the Hospital on Dec. 6
It was his first complete race since returning to snow on Nov. 1 after hip surgery
Ted Ligety was 13th and Bode Miller 27th
Reigning World Cup overall champion Ivica Kostelic won the race
The raced closed two full weeks of World Cup action in Beaver Creek, site of the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships
QUOTES Nolan Kasper It's race day and you've got to bring it, you can't think about being sick or being hurt. You just have muster up some energy and go.
Everyone goes through injuies. It sucks and it's something you have to work through. I just had to deal with it, work incredibly hard and try and get as healthy as possible for whenever I could get back. Luckly Levi was canceled and Val d'Isere was moved here, so it was a good first race back.
I knew I'd race. I was sick for World Cup Finals last year and I still raced. It was a stomach virus and I couldn't really eat any food, so I was hitting the meal replacement shakes and fluids pretty hard.
Everyone is skiing well. Our veterans are skiing fast and we've got a lot of young guys knocking on the door. I think we're going to have a pretty good year.
Ted Ligety It was an awesome two weeks in Beaver Creek. I feel like I missed a good opportunity in the super G, but winning the giant slalom on Tuesday was awesome and I was pretty happy with the way I skied in today's slalom. If it wasn't for that small mistake on the bottom, it would have been a different race. You can feel good about how your training, but you never really know until race day.
What Nolan did was impressive. I mean he was hooked up to an IV a few days ago because he was so dehydrated. To even finish in the top 30 would have been a good result considering how sick he is. The fact that he was almost on the podium tells you a lot about how determined he is.
Bode Miller I made a mistake at the bottom of the Abyss and it's uphill right there. That's not the kind of place you want to make a mistake, but I'm pretty happy with the way I'm skiing and my fitness is in the right place. All in all, I'm feeling pretty good.
It's a bummer to miss an opportunity to have another good finish in front of the home crowd, but early season stuff is really important to gather information about what you need to be fast. At this time of year, it's less about the results.