Written By: Meri-Jo Borzilleri

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Speed racer ready for tighter turns in Monday’s slalom leg

WILMINGTON, N.Y. – Spectators at the men’s Alpine Combined event of the Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games might think they were seeing double – or triple – when looking at the results of the Super-G portion of the event at Whiteface Mountain Sunday.

First of all, Saturday’s Super-G gold medalist, Jan Zabystran, 24, again topped the field in the Super-G in the combined, an event consisting of one run of Super-G and one run of Slalom. The slalom takes place tomorrow, Monday.

All three medalists from Saturday were in the top three Sunday in the 50-man field. Six skiers did not finish, most sliding out on the fast course.

Four skiers after Zabystran, skiing ninth, laid down a run of 56.82 seconds, Saturday’s bronze medalist Eric Wyler of Switzerland delivered a run of 56.90 seconds for second position. Luca Taranzano of Italy, who won silver Saturday, is in third with a time of 57.18.

Zabystran, a student at the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague, is looking forward to Monday’s slalom, the second half of the combined event that measures a skier’s versatility in speed and technical racing. Wyler and Taranzano – not so much.

“I haven’t done slalom (much this year), so the expectations are not too high,” said Wyler, 21, a student at UniDistance Suisse. “But I will have fun and do my best.”

Taranzano, 25, who studies at Niccolo Cusano Online University, was more blunt.

“I am not a slalom racer,” he said, “more like a giant slalom and super-G racer. I train a little bit more slalom for this event. I will try. It will be a surprise.”

On a sunny day with temperatures in the teens, Zabystran, racing for the first time in the U.S., took the most from a course that was icy and grippy, just how he likes it, he said.

“The conditions were much better than (Saturday),” Zabystran said. “The snow was much more compact. I think it was 2.5 seconds faster. The set was also a little different. It had more speed and the grip was much better.”

He leads by eight-hundredths of a second over Wyler and just 36-hundredths over Taranzano going into Monday’s slalom. He hopes he can pad his lead over the two speed specialists.

“I mean, I made some mistakes,” Zabystran said. “I hope I will have more advantage in slalom. I like the competition. I also like slalom so I really look forward to racing.”

The men’s combined slalom is set for 9:30 a.m. Monday. The women’s slalom follows at 12:30 p.m.

The FISU World University Games is the world’s largest multi-sporting event for collegiate-athletes, ages 17-25. The Lake Placid 2023 FISU Games feature 1,443 collegiate-athletes from more than 540 universities, across 46 countries. The competition consists of 12 winter sports and 85 medal events contested throughout Canton, Potsdam, Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Wilmington and North Creek.

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