Jansrud leads super combined after downhill; Miller, Ligety struggle
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) Kjetil Jansrud of Norway was fastest in the downhill portion of the Olympic super-combined Friday, with Ivica Kostelic of Croatia best positioned among the slalom specialists in seventh.
The slalom leg is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. (1130 GMT). The winner of the race will be determined by adding the times together from the two runs.
Jansrud sped down the Rosa Khutor course in 1 minute, 53.24 seconds. Ondrej Bank of the Czech Republic was in second place, 0.14 behind, and downhill gold medalist Matthias Mayer was third, 0.37 behind.
Norwegian standout Aksel Lund Svindal was sixth, 0.70 behind; Kostelic was 0.93 back; defending champion Bode Miller was 12th, 1.43 back; world champion Ted Ligety was 18th, 1.93 behind; and French contender Alexis Pinturault was only 23rd, 2.44 back.
"I would have liked to have been closer to Ivica for sure and a little bit more ahead than Alexis," Ligety said. "Two seconds is not that much time to make up on downhill guys."
Kostelic, who has taken silver in this event at the past two Olympics, should be helped by the fact that his father, Ante Kostelic, has set the gates for the slalom run.
Jansrud took the bronze medal in Sunday's downhill but he has never finished better than fourth in a World Cup super-combi. He was ninth in this event at the 2010 Vancouver Games, although his slalom form took a hit when he tore cruciate ligaments in his left knee at last year's world championships.
"I have done mine but now I will open the Pandora's box for the slalom," Jansrud said. "I have no idea what I can expect."
Jansrud's best finish in a World Cup slalom was fourth back in December 2005.
Bank and Mayer also do not have solid slalom credentials. Bank has one career World Cup top-10 result in slalom, while Mayer has never contested a slalom.
Another Norwegian, Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, was 0.61 behind in fourth and both Jansrud and Svindal tipped him as a possible medalist.
With organizers having moved the starting time of the downhill leg up by an hour, the course was still extremely soft. The temperature was already 7 degrees Celsius (45 degrees Fahrenheit) and climbing.
"They moved the start to minimize that and in a way they maximized that," Miller said. "If they start at 11 everyone has (bad) snow more or less. In hindsight you can make those calls."
Miller described the snow as "crystals, mushy stuff."
"It's not even hard to ski, it's just slow," he said. "But in the end another mistake cost me. You had to take maximum risk with that start position."
Yuri Danilochkin of Belarus, one of the lower-ranked skiers, fell and slid under three layers of safety netting before coming to a halt just before a group of photographers.