Maybe they should rename the event the super-hard-combined.
On a challenging course layout and in poor snow conditions that claimed nearly a third of the field, relative unknown Swiss skier Sandro Viletta emerged victorious, winning his country's first-ever gold medal in the men's super-combined at the Sochi Winter Olympics.
The 28-year-old, who scored his lone World Cup victory and podium finish in the Beaver Creek super-G in 2012, stormed from 14th place in the downhill with an impressive slalom run to finish with a combined time of 2:45.20.
Switzerland's previous best finish in an Olympic combined was silver by Karl Molitor in St. Moritz in 1948.
Ivica Kostelic of Croatia, whose father Ante set the slalom course, finished second, .34 seconds back, for his third consecutive Olympic silver medal in the combined discipline. Kostelic has four career Olympic silvers and no golds, juxtaposed against the career of his sister Janica who won four golds and two silvers before retiring after the 2006 Games.
The bronze medal went to Italy's Christof Innerhofer. The downhill silver medalist earlier in the week, finished .43 seconds behind Viletta, becoming his country's first Olympic medalist in the event since Gianfranco Martin took silver in Albertville in 1992.
The three medalists survived a war of attrition that saw the soft snow and difficult first pitch chew up and spit out many of the world's top ski racers. Of the top 30 racers who made the flip from the downhill, 10 of them did not finish.
Among the DNF's was Andrew Weibrecht, the first American out of the gate in the run. He seemed to have a rhythm going until he hooked the tip of his left ski on a gate and slid down several feet on his stomach.
Ted Ligety, the reigning world champion in super-combined, started next for the U.S. with over a second lead but lost almost all of it through the difficult first pitch. He slid across in third place at the time butd immediately banged on his helmet as if to say, "What just happened?"
Jared Goldberg, the youngest member of the U.S. men's team at age 21, tried to channel a bit of Ligety circa 2006, when he won combined gold as the youngest member of the team in Torino. He lost advantage early on but kept his momentum moving forward and crossed into third, bumping Ligety out of medal contention. Goldberg wound up 11th, one place ahead of Ligety.
The last U.S. medal hope was defending Olympic champion Bode Miller, but a repeat of his Vancouver magic was not in the cards. The 36-year-old was wild right out of the gate as he forced the issue without the large downhill cushion he had hoped for. Bounced around by the terrain, the 36-year-old maintained composure enough to cross in third place, a mark that was not going to hold up with 11 racers following him. He wound up placing sixth.