GARMISCH MEN’S DOWNHILL
The boys took it to the hill today and put the effort out there you would expect of a World Championship race. I had the good fortune to watch most of it before I went out to training here at Mission Ridge this morning. We had some nasty weather with high winds but got some good drilling and slalom training accomplished. And, as I said, I had a chance to watch the boys battle the DH track in Garmisch today with some success, some failure and a lot of fatigue. No matter the outcome, those boys laid it down on the hill today and left it all out there. It makes Ivica Kostelic’s move all the more understood as he pushes for the tech medals and then the World Cup Overall after the Championships. He made a good call based on future fatigue. A great move based on his goals. The same for Janka really. Carlo has been fighting viral infections for a couple of years now and is trying not to get run-down. Again, it is a great move for him to take a little time off.
All of that being said, today’s race showed to me the incredible grit and effort these guys put into every run on every day. Look at Aksel’s run today. He obviously was pushing it the whole way. He knew he had mistakes but would not give-in. He out flew the landing on the Freifalle and maybe hurt himself there but stuck it out through the finish and spun-out in the finish area and hit the pads hard. He had a CT Scan and I do not know anything beyond that. He is reporting the knee is ok but he had some pain after landing and that pain led to the crash in the finish because he would not put the left leg down hard enough to stop. He was totally out of gas and did his best, which was to lay over on his side and spin into the bags. But my point is simple; every guy looked like that in the finish. There was 100% effort and racing out there today and it did the sport proud. I enjoyed every second I was able to watch and I was entirely engrossed in every run. The boys were on the top of their game and the hill shone as a star in its own right. It was fantastic stuff.
This, in all honesty, makes Erik Guay’s win all that more impressive. He is a great skier and downhiller with a ton of experience. We all know that. But he was out for a whole month earlier this season and was coming in with very little recent experience and confidence to draw on. He also has little of a teammate stable left for today. He was there with rookie Ben Thomsen and with veteran Jan Hudec. That is not a problem but he is used to being a part of a big and strong team. He has a great staff there with him and Johno McBride and the rest of the staff deserve a lot in bringing him the gold. I am sure they are deep into it at Canada House or “Peaches” in downtown Garmsich by now. Congratulations boys! Congratulations to you, Erik, you definitely deserve it!
And with Cuche and Innerhofer rounding out the podium, I think you cannot be surprised. Innerhofer was ready for this event and raked in his second medal and will likely take off and go home and watch the rest of the Championships on TV while he gets ready for Kvitfjell and beyond. Cuche will stick around for the GS and will likely be a favorite on a hill that suits him AND is on a DH track he has skied several times this week. As I said, it was a great showing by the guys today and I totally enjoyed it.
WOMEN RACE DH TOMORROW
So after cancelling the women’s training run today and the men’s training run for Combi tomorrow to save the track, we head into the women’s Downhill tomorrow. With the big-time favorites in a bit of physical trouble heading into the race, it will shine the light on the other girls and on the ones who really want to risk and push for the podium.
Riesch picked 17 and Vonn 20, separating them by a few numbers. And I think a good move by both to go later. There will be a film of sloppy snow on the surface that will need to be skied off. But it also gives each of them a chance to feel better physically by the time they start. 20 start positions is likely about 30-40 minutes more time to get ready than going number 1. And it gives them both a shot to shake the cobwebs or the fever or whatever they have. But I am not buying it from Lindsey, I think she is still concussed and should go home to get better. Maria, she has the flu and it is hard to overcome that feeling too. Fever and aches and chills do not make you feel strong. I think they are both off the steps. But starting with number 8 tomorrow, I like a lot of girls to make a charge. The training runs and Super G and Combi have hardened attitudes and have steeled their collective will. I think we will see one of the most competitive and combative races in women’s World Championship DH history. And there are a few I want to point out between 8 and 22.
Bib 8: Marie Marchand-Arvier (FRA): She came close at home in France a couple of years ago and she skis well. She has shown over the years that she has a lot of guts and toughness.
Bib 10: Dominique Gisin (SUI): She has been good at Zauchensee, which to me is about as similar a hill as there is on the World Cup for women. And she was solid in the combi DH.
Bib 11: Ingrid Jacquemod (FRA): She’s a vet and one of my favorites. She knows what she is doing and reportedly in her last season. We will see but she could dig deep for something good.
Bib 13: Lara Gut (SUI): The most solid technical skier of the speed girls with a strong transition and clean initiation. If she can find that along with her guts, watch out. I am a big fan and I think she will contend.
Bib 16: Liz Goergl (AUT): I will be shocked if she is not on the podium. I think she is relaxed after the gold in SG and I think she will knock down another medal. Maybe another gold?
Bib 18: Julia Mancuso (USA): Big game girl in a big girls’ game. She has been good already and I think she will be good again tomorrow. To pick her to win would be a possible jinx? But I certainly would be surprised if she did not come away with a medal.
Bib 19: Anja Paerson (SWE): I have to say she has a chance due to her past and recent past in the combi. But I think she will fall short in 5th or 6th.
Canadian Britt Janyk starts 25 and she could sneak into the top 10. She’s done a great job holding it together all year with no healthy teammate support but I think it is a tall task. We, the USA, have Laurenne Ross going number 1 and Leanne Smith starting 5 and I believe in both girls deeply. But the start numbers are tough in the conditions we will see and I think it’s enough slow snow on the bottom to take them out of the medals. Stacey Cook goes 28 and is a strong skier on a hill where that matters. And Stacy has stepped up in the big events of late (Val d’Isere comes to mind) to threaten the podium. I would like nothing more to see her make a charge to the podium. Good Luck Stace!
Watch out for Tina Maze (SLO). She is a great turner, an excellent skier; she is big enough and very tough-minded when it comes to big events. She is also very experienced. Possibly…
If you are picking on www.fantasyskiracer.com there are a lot of points in a podium like this:
GUT, MANCUSO, GOERGL