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The White Circus

World Cup Notes 19.12.15 | It's Downhill Day, baby!

Megan Harrod

First thing’s first…let’s recap yesterday, ladies and gentleman:

One hundredth. That’s all that separated Lara Gut and Lindsey Vonn yesterday. This is ski racing at its finest. A race against the clock. What a great day for Lindsey though. She even enjoyed herself a champagne fight with circuit buddy, Austria’s Michaela Kirchgasser (3rd place), post-race White Circus-style. Yes.

And then there was that Andrew “Warhorse” Weibrecht. His previous best finish on this super G track was a 15th in 2009. He told me yesterday after inspection that the course was a downhiller’s set. Straight. They took out a lot of the terrain. He wasn’t too stoked about it. Funny, seeing as though he posted another great result – among his best in his career, continuing his speed dominance this season. 5th place. Funny, seeing as though he was 1.01 out at the top split when he had way too much direction…but he crushed the bottom and gained a ton of time back. No one could catch those Norwegians yesterday though. What a day for them!

The winning ways of Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal have continued as the Attacking Viking captured the Val Gardena super G for the fourth time in his career and fourth victory this season. Following Svindal in second and third, respectively, were two of his countrymen, Kjetil Jansrud and Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, marking the third ever Norwegian World Cup podium sweep and first ever in super G. Will it be so again today?! I feel American Downhiller domination in the air today. Just sayin’…when you feel it, you can feel it.

The Scoop: The guys have skied this track this week and figured it out. They’re feeling good this morning. Spirits are bright. Smiles all ‘round. I sat next to Steven Nyman at breakfast and he’s feeling relaxed. Good vibes here. Jared Goldberg and Travis Ganong just sat down with me. They awoke to some beautiful tunes played by men in lederhosen (see attached video from snapchat). Head Coach Alex Hoedlmoser told the guys last night at our team meeting, “Aerodymanics tomorrow. Look for it and execute. There’s plenty of room here if you make a small error. Don’t over-edge, just let ‘em fly. You have everything in you to win this.” ICYMO yesterday: here’s the preview for the weekend with more details on the speed series.

Val Gardena – Classic Saslong Downhill

  • Start time: 12:15 CET
  • U.S. Starters: Steven Nyman (11), Travis Ganong (lucky number 13), Marco Sullivan (29), Andrew Weibrecht (31), Jared Goldberg (37), Wiley Maple (49), and Bryce Bennett (57).
  • Steven Nyman has participated in 143 World Cup races across all disciplines. He has won three times, all coming in the Val Gardena Downhill (2006, 2012 and 2014), hat-trick-style. He drew bib 11 last night at the public draw. Assistant Coach Chris “Becko” Beckmann said 11 is his number and he sees it everywhere. That’slucky.
  • What does Nyman have to say about today’s race? "It’s usually a pretty close race. I set myself apart last year, but the only guy that kept up was Kjetil [Jansrud]. Right now we have Travis and Aksel [Lund Svindal] and Kjetil and myself, we’re kind of ahead of the game right now. But you have to risk everything, and you really have to throw down. With all this terrain, all the jumps and all of the blind rolls, you can really mess up and there’s usually some good crashes every year, and it’s a good show. I’ve crashed here more than I’ve won here because I always risk it. But I really enjoy the jumps, I really enjoy that movement; it’s something I’m really good at, so I feel comfortable here ever since I laid eyes on it.”
  • Travis Ganong, Marco Sullivan, Andrew Weibrecht, Jared Goldberg – they all stacked the top 20 the other day and know they can ski fast today. They WANT to ski fast today.
  • Wiley Maple had a crash yesterday, and is feeling a bit tight today, but he skied fast in the second training run the other day and knows he can today. Bryce Bennett too. Watch that big guy. He’ll be working on the aerodynamics today.

Who’s in the hunt? We’re on home soil in Italy, and Italian skiers have won the Val Gardena Downhill five times, of which the last was in December 2001, when Kristian Ghedina (who, coincidentally shared the same wax tech as Steven Nyman, Leo – the man!) shared the victory with Stephan Eberharter. Since then 12 Val Gardena Downhill World Cup events are held and only Dominik Paris (18) reached the podium for Italy, with his third place finish last year. I told Lars (the Norwegian trainer) that my fingers are getting tired of writing #AttackingVikings. It’s true. You may or may not know, we have a collaboration with the Norwegians where we train and collaborate on hill. In a sense, we feel like a team. Them building us up and us building them up. Pretty cool. But man, give us a break Norway! Aksel Lund-Svindal (21) has won both downhill races this season, winning in Lake Louse and Beaver Creek. The last man to win the first three downhill World Cup races of a season was Stephan Eberharter (Austria). He achieved this feat in 2002/2003. Svindal won both downhill races this season. Kjetil Jansrud (17) won the last downhill race of last season. Come on, let’s break this streak, boys, shall we?!

Val d’Isere – Downhill

  • Start time: 10:30 CET
  • U.S. Starters: Alice McKennis (3), Laurenne Ross (14), Stacey Cook (15), Lindsey Vonn (17), and Jackie Wiles (27).
  • Vonn is poised to equal Moser Pröll's downhill record. She has won 35 Downhill World Cup races and only trails Austria’s Annemarie Moser Pröll or most Downhill wins (36). The 36 wins by Moser Pröll are also the most by a woman in a single World Cup event. Vonn won the Downhill in Val d'Isère in December 2014 when she snagged Winnie and can win in back to back editions for the second time following her wins in December 2006 and December 2010. Vonn also won in Val d'Isère in December 2005 and is the only woman to win the Val d'Isère Downhill four times.
  • Don’t worry, I've already asked the organizing committee if they’ll have a cow this year to give. They confirmed. Lindsey smiled. Just so you know, Lindsey’s cow Winnie is still in Val d’Isère at the farm, and will be transported to Soelden or Kirchberg (with the rest of the herd) in the spring.
  • Alice has been skiing smoking-hot in training runs this week, as have Laurenne and Stacey. Laurenne’s shoulder is nagging her a bit from her fall the other day near the finish, but it doesn’t seem to bother her when she’s skiing so keep an eye out for that ripper. She skied fast in Val d’Isère last year and was leading splits before she crashed. She’s right in there. I like her fire and I think she has it in her. The young Jackie Wiles rounds out the #SpeedUnicorns and dialed some stuff in yesterday during the downhill portion of the Alpine Combined, finishing 9th. She’s ready to bring that momentum to today’s race. RAWR.

Who’s in the hunt? Austria’s Cornelia Hütter (22) finished second and third in the Downhill races in Lake Louise two weeks ago. Together with Vonn she was the only woman to finish on the podium in both races. Switzerland’s Lara Gut (20) is riding high from yesterday’s Combined win, and she's won the Val d'Isère Downhill in December 2012, her first of four downhill World Cup victories. Keep an eye, also, on fellow countrywoman Fabienne Suter, who will run right after Gut today. I’m going to throw in Austria’s Liz Goergl (16) too, because I like her and she’s feisty and she’s focusing solely on speed this season so I think she’s one to watch.

TV and Live Streaming Schedule (times EST):
Saturday, Dec. 19
4:30 a.m. - Women's DH, Val d'Isere - NBC Live Extra - LIVE STREAM
6:00 a.m. - Men's DH, Val Gardena- NBC Live Extra - LIVE STREAM
11:00 a.m. - Women's DH, Val d'Isere - Universal HD
12:30 p.m. - Men's SG, Val Gardena, Universal HD

*Follow the action from Val Gardena on Snapchat (usskiteam).*

See you lederhosen!

Ski in Peace,