WOW, what a day yesterday, huh?! Though we were unsure of how it would turn out with the injuries and retirements, it was definitely an exciting one! How about that?! A little dark horse action and Italian finesse from the one and only Federica Brignone. Beautiful, flawless skiing! Mikaela scored a 2nd and some key points towards her bid at the overall this year. As she mentioned in an interview after the race when asked about her and Lindsey duking it out for the top position, it’ll make for an exciting year for the Americans!
The Dude Soelden Scoop: I’d like to officially unveil the men’s #USTechNerds, the tech team’s answer to the badass #American Downhiller crew. The team’s vibe is great, and Ted’s at the helm. They carry a wiffle ball bat and balls around with them all season, go to colleges like Middlebury and Dartmouth, they’re entrepreneurs, they’re odd (in the best way possible). They ski powder in shin guards. They’re the #USTechNerds and check out the first edition of their #wiffleballchronicles…cheers to Ski Racing for joining us the other day as we tackled some unconventional dry land activities. As Ted mentioned all week, this race is kind of a mystery…no one knows who will come out on top. Only time will tell. In many ways, this is a testing ground…but it’s one that sets the tone for the season, so you better believe these guys will be throwing down.
Soelden, Austria - Men's GS
- 1st Run Start time: 9:30am CET. 2nd Run: 12:45pm.
- U.S. Starters: Ted Ligety (bib #3), Tim Jitloff (10), Tommy Ford (30), Kieffer Christianson (42), Hig Roberts (45), and Nick Cohee (53).
- Last year Ted “Mr. GS” Ligety (3rd in GS in 2015) had a rough go here as he bobbled just before the flats. He was the favorite to win, after having won three consecutive season openers at Soelden, including an unbelievable 2.75 second margin win in 2013. Austria’s powerhouse Marcel Hirscher was the one winning by crazy margins last year, though…do you guys remember The Hirscher Show at Garmisch, when he won by over 3 seconds?! Dang, brother. BUT GUESS WHAT?! Ted is feeling good. He’s in a better place mentally and physically than he was last year at this time, and as Head Coach Forest Carey said, “quite frankly, he’s hungry”. We all know Ted is a fierce competitor and has in insatiable appetite for the win.
- Jit wants to break into the top 5 today. And he can if he skis like he knows how to ski. It’s time for full-on beast mode, Jit. He was skiing fast in training and hanging with Ted. He can make it happen. Tommy Ford, folks…he’s back. With some solid results on tour last year, TFord is ready to break into the top 15. He’s an arc’er and one of my personal favorite skiers—beautiful technique. Fluid. He told me Ted Ligety learned everything he knows from him. HA. Watch him.
- Let’s talk about the young guys: Kieffer Christianson, Hig Roberts and Nick Cohee. Kieffer skied his first World Cup here two years ago, donning a rookie haircut and a whole lot o' excitement. He went out early and was bummed, but those nerves are gone now and he’s ready today. He told me this morning he slept better last night than he has before any World Cup start. He attributes that zen vibe to the Buddha teachings he read last night. He’s an awesomely odd kid and I’m cheering for him today.
- THE ROOKIES! Two Americans will ski their very first World Cups today, and they'll do it—sadly— sans rookie haircuts: Hig Roberts and Nick Cohee. They’re great kids with great stories. Hig Roberts has taken an unconventional track to the U.S. Ski Team, as he was a successful university racer at Middlebury…then skyrocketed to the B Team this year. That’s special. Doesn’t happen often. He’s strong, he’s smart, and he’s got a little bit of a creepy pre-Movember mustache, but he’s trying. A for Effort. He’ll be one to keep an eye on this year. At 27-years-old Nick Cohee, a former – and very successful – University of Utah alpine ski racer and current Team Geronimo (independent) athlete, is one of the oldest rookies you’ll find. But he was STOKED to get the call from Sasha Rearick inviting him to join the crew, and his excitement is palpable. A genuinely great guy with a great story and he told me he has loved getting to hang with the team and staff this week.
The Course Report, Post Inspection Run 1: This is an American first run course set, my friends…by none other than the man, Head Coach Forest Carey. If you remember – dust off those summer cobwebs – Forest was Ted’s coach and now is Head Men’s Tech Coach as Ted has integrated into the team structure this season. That means this course will favor Ted. Duh. I caught up with Head Men’s Coach Sasha Rearick on the course, who told me this snow is the best he’s seen in a long, long time on the tour. It’s buff. It’s buttery. It’s Birds of Prey-like snow, and these guys are going to RIP. Sasha also told me the Frenchies asked him if he told Forest where to put the gates, because the set looked like a Sasha Rearick set…rhythmical, technical…beautiful. A couple of cranking turns coming down on to the flats, so these guys will have to nail those…as you all know, this hill is unforgivable if you make a mistake going into the bottom flat.
Who’s in the hunt?
I’m not going to jinx this one with picks, but I’m going to tell you who to keep an eye on…hopefully we’ll get some dark horse action today too…
Marcel Hirscher – Bib #1 (1st in 2015 GS and Overall)
Fritz Dopfer – 2 (4th in 2015 GS)
Alexis Pinturault – 4 (2nd in 2015 GS)
Felix Neureuther – 6 (8th in 2015 GS)
Henrik Kristoffersen – 14 (6th in 2015 GS)
Kjetil Jansrud – 16
Aksel Lund-Svindal – 17
Domestic TV Coverage:
Universal Sports Network – LIVE
Sunday, Oct. 25, 7:30 a.m. EDT
#WhatMakesAChamp LAST CHANCE…
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 inNovember. Check out Laurenne Ross and Alice McKennis, two of the #SpeedUnicorns, as they share what they think makes a champion.
Ski in Peace, and Ski ya later (that one’s a shout out to my Central Nation roots, and Brewster McVicker!)…in Levi!