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U.S. men’s skier Nolan Kasper comes from nowhere to place 13th in Olympic slalom

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Going into the men’s slalom competition on Saturday, February 22 to complete the alpine skiing portion of these Olympics in Sochi, the American name on everyone’s lips was Ted Ligety.

After the race, however, that name has been changed to Nolan Kasper, a 24-year-old Dartmouth student who backed up his 18th place first run with a second run to finish in 13th place overall in his first Olympics.

This was on a course designed by Croatian skiing legend Ante Kostelic that felled over 50 skiers alone on this men’s slalom course -- including American superstar Ted Ligety.

The best Ligety would get on this day was sixth on his first run -- before he skied off course in his second run -- he of the flawless giant slalom performance that earned him a gold medal several days earlier.

“I knew the course was falling apart and everybody was watching guy after guy fall or blow out. You’ve just got to keep fighting,“ Kasper said in his post-race press conference. “You don’t really think when you’re going down the course, and I just wanted to try to have a good rest of my run. Obviously, my splits were pretty good and so I think besides the falls it was a positive experience.”

Kasper blasted down the hill in 48:70 on his first run. But an over-skied course combined with difficult turns made for a 55:52 split time on his second run -- still 10th fastest on such a treacherous course.

Kasper had only finished one World Cup race this year prior to these Olympics and came into Sochi ranked 35th in the world.

In 2011 he tore his ACL and the following year saw him tear a hip muscle -- both during competition.

After the manner in which he skied in the Caucasus though, you would be wise to think that Kasper’s best skiing may be ahead.

“Nolan has not been skiing well. He’s missed 250 days of skiing in the past two and a half years. That’s a lot of training days. And for him to come out here and do what he did today–hats off to him,” said his coach, Sasha Rearick.

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