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Monday December 16, 2013 MYT 2:07:13 AM
Monday December 16, 2013 MYT 2:08:05 AM
by patrick lang
Ted Ligety of the U.S. skis during the first run of the Men's World Cup Giant Slalom skiing race in Val d'Isere, French Alps, December 14, 2013. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
VAL D'ISERE, France (Reuters) - World champion Ted Ligety led criticism of Val d'Isere's daunting Face de Bellevarde piste at the weekend after failing to complete a World Cup giant slalom for the first time in nearly five years.
The U.S. skier described the slope, designed for the 1992 Albertville Olympics, as 'super brutal' after he slid out of Saturday's race.
"It's everybody's least favourite hill on the World Cup tour because there is no fun part of it," said the 29-year-old American, a big hope for next year's Sochi Olympics.
"Everybody feels when he's going down this hill that it's all a big mistake," said Ligety, who had not skied out of contention since February 2009 in Sestriere and had since completed 34 World Cup giant slaloms in a row.
"There is nothing special about this course, it's just steep and bumpy. It's not really a GS hill, it's a really unfortunate hill for the World Cup to be on," continued Ligety.
"It's super ugly skiing to watch and I think it's super ugly skiing to feel."
Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal, former world champion in the discipline and bronze medallist in Vancouver in 2010, had mixed feelings about a run created at the request of local hero and former Olympic champion Jean-Claude Killy.
"It's very tough. But we're the best skiers in the world, we have the best equipment so we should be able to handle it," he said after skidding out when his binding snapped.
Austria's Marcel Hirscher had kinder words after winning Saturday's giant, only to see his streak of 11 successive slalom podiums stopped on Sunday when veteran compatriot Mario Matt stole the show.
The winner of the last two overall World Cups said he still enjoyed the challenge.
"I'm not the heaviest or the largest guy. It's really tough to ski here for others, but it's sometimes tougher for me to ski on pistes like Beaver Creek for example," said Hirscher. "With the good technique I can ski really fast here..."
The Bellevarde slope was used for the first time as a downhill course for the 1992 Olympics, crowning an outsider in Austria's Patrick Ortlieb.
In 2009, Canada's John Kucera was an unexpected downhill world champion on it and the piste gradually earned its controversial reputation.
In all, 29 skiers failed to complete either run of Sunday's slalom.
(Reporting by Patrick Lang, editing by Alan Baldwin)
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