Now through the end of the season, I will post my daily World Cup Notes here for all to follow the journey...keep an eye out for a rebrand and some updates to delivery of information (digitally rather than via email). Open to feedback, as always! Enjoy the ride...
Last night's vibe: 'Twas the night before the White Circus Christmas, when all through the Zwieselstein condos, not a U.S. Ski Team member was stirring, not even a mouse…
Merry Christmas! That’s what it feels like today. Christmas morgen. Might come at no surprise to you all, but I woke up at 4:45am with insane amounts of energy and anticipation. Like a kid on Christmas morning. Welcome back to the Audi FIS Ski World Cup. Here we are again. It’s like no time has passed. But oh yes, yes it has. I shaved my head and went to India and vagablonded around the western United States while the team chased snow around the Southern Hemisphere, from New Zealand to Chile. Fast forward, and here we are…in Austria.
The Soelden Scoop: It’s been a great week in Soelden…some fresh snow, some good training, lots of sunshine (like always)…and voila – here we are on race day. Last night at our team meeting new Head Coach Paul Kristofic said, “Nothing else to say but clear head, strong heart…go like HELL.” Alpine Director Patrick Riml and Head Tech Coach Brandon Dyksterhouse chimed in, “Going to be fun. Battle. Let it rip.” It hasn’t been an ideal prep period (Mikaela’s been chasing snow around Europe, recently training at the Mölltaler Glacier), but it’s been good enough. Time to ski with no regret. Something special in the air, here, and I think it might have to do with Ronnie and Bryce looking down on us from ski heaven. They’re cheering for Mikaela and Megan today. Check out the preview for this weekend’s opener.
Soelden, Austria - Women’s GS
- 1st Run Start time: 9:30am CET. 2nd Run: 12:45pm.
- U.S. Starters: Mikaela Shiffrin (bib #5) and Megan McJames (50). And guess what, folks?! The mighty Team Mexico’s Sarah Schleper is back and ready to ROAR, coming in hot at bib 63.
- If you recall, last year Mikaela won her first GS of her career here on the technical Soelden pitch, sharing the podium with Austrian Anna Fenninger, who went on to win the GS and overall globes. That was my first World Cup. And That. Was. Damn. Exciting. Let’s see if Mikaela’s recent focus on that fancy footwork will work wonders for her in the course too.
- As you have all heard, Lindsey Vonn returned to snow on Thursday after nearly 10 weeks of healing an ankle fracture sustained in New Zealand while training, and though she felt good (and was skiing fast, if I might add) she decided she will sit Soelden out and shift her focus to return-to-snow training and getting strong for Aspen, site of the 2017 World Cup Finals, and Lake Louise.
- Vonn and Shiffrin ought to make it an exciting season, as they were 3rd and 4th, respectively, in the overall last year behind Fenninger, who will unfortunately sit the season out after falling and injuring her knee the other day in training. This is definitely a hit for the sport, and we’ll miss Anna. To my Austrian friends…sending good vibes to Anna – hope she heals up fast.
The Course Report, Post Inspection Run 1: If you know anything about this track, you know that it’s among the most challenging GS tracks on the women’s circuit. And this track is SLICK today folks, slicker than last year for sure. But the course set is straightforward and Mikaela’s technical prowess on this steep, sustained pitch will benefit her. Only time will tell. T-19 minutes to be exact.
Who’s in the hunt? 71 racers will kick out of the start, and the Christine Feehan the Sage from Ski Racing informs me that only five of them have podiumed on this track before. With veterans Kathrin Zettel and Tina Maze retired (Maze temporarily, at least) and Fenninger out, this women’s field is fresh, my friends, and opportunity is in the air. Let’s see some dark horse action today, shall we?! Yes please. Keep an eye on Austrian veteran Eva-Maria Brem (4) - she was third in the Soelden opener last year and second in GS standings behind Fenninger. For today, I’m vibin' Sweden’s Sara Hector (6), Italy’s Federica Brignone (2)…she’s got that Italian flair and she’s fun to watch, Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg (1), and Switzerland’s Lara Gut (16) – the World Cup Rebel who made the switch from Rossi to Head this spring.
Domestic TV Coverage:
Universal Sports Network – LIVE
Saturday, Oct. 24, 6:30 a.m. EDT
Sunday, Oct. 25, 7:30 a.m. EDT
Oh, and one more thing…inspired by the official U.S. Ski Team mascot Champ, the Team has kicked off a content series asking athletes about the moment they truly felt like a champion. Now, the question has been turned to YOU. Now through October 25 fans can enter the #WhatMakesAChamp contest for a chance to ski win a trip to Copper to ski with Ted Ligety in November.
Unicorn leggings on. Mask in the bag. Magic in the air. Let’s do this.
Ski in Peace…