Super G Canceled, Men GS and Women SL next up
I did a short update piece on the cancellation today and what it might mean to the overall globe race. Obviously, Lindsey would have liked to race today to keep the pressure on Riesch, who is obviously struggling mentally and physically with fatigue and maybe a total mental breakdown. Her body language is awful and her reaction to coaches in the finish area is even worse. She looks like a beaten puppy. And going into slalom tomorrow, Atle Skaardal who is the women’s World Cup Race Director for FIS, is already talking about the races tomorrow being a challenge. Meaning the rain will be there all night and change to snow tomorrow which is a very tough situation. If it stays rain, and the visibility is ok, they can salt or put chemical on the surface to harden it and make it a fair race. But if it changes to snow and there is fresh snow on the surface, it is likely that chemical will not work and break the surface, further jeopardizing the next day. It will be a tough decision to make, especially with the overall still on the line.
The men have GS tomorrow and that globe is also on the line. Ted Ligety leads by a healthy 77 points which puts Svindal and Richard in tough positions where they will have to take risks to catch him. And he will have to get shut out. 15th is 16 points and then those two could only win if one were to win and Ted were 14th or worse. My point is that it is a tough task and if Ted stays within himself he will score enough to take the title. Weather could play a role of course and everyone in the draw will be hoping for an early number. As I wrote that, Svindal drew number one, Richard 3 and Ted number 4. That should make for some great drama headed into the race and then for the second run.
This GS hill is a tough one and bad weather and visibility will cause problems. The start, if you watched the downhill race, is on the top of the Steilhang where the left-footed double was with the deep belly ad where all the skiers were having trouble before dropping down the main pitch. It is very steep there right out of the start and left foot fall-away for the first few turns and then right foot fall-away coming off the pitch with a small compression. It is very tough for the first 8 to 10 turns. After that it flattens but it is a winding trail and takes some skill to set a course on it that has some flow and rhythm. There is also a tough left foot section as the trail bends back to the finish that has a strong fall-away. Many a run has been lost there in the past. Ted was 10th here in 2007 and Svindal won the race. But Aksel was trying to win the overall (which he did) and Ted was not yet the Ted that we now know in GS. I can see this as an excellent hill for Ted.
The FIS is already talking negatively about the weather situation with regard to tomorrow’s races. They like to do this to give everyone a low expectation of the race actually happening. So when it does happen, everyone thinks it was against the odds but also with herculean effort. It makes everyone look good if a race happens that you think will be canceled when you go to bed the night before. Realism is important in assessing these situations and being on the half-empty side of reality is only a conservative approach. Everyone will prepare like it will happen so it should not cause any kind of negativity on the side of the athletes or staffs.
As I watch Clemson and West Virginia go at each other in the NCAA Basketball Tournament, March Madness has begun. The women have also drawn their start numbers for tomorrow’s slalom race. My first impression was one of shock when I saw Nastasia Noens starting number 1. Everyone who reads this post knows that I am a fan of Ms. Noens. I think she is an up and comer in slalom and brings energy to every run along with solid skiing. But Noens did not race in Spindleruv Mlyn for a reason and the reason was a ruptured ACL. She reported on her website that she was training GS and “got back” and heard a “crack” sound. She pulled off the course and had an MRI that revealed an ACL rupture and she would require surgery. It is interesting that she is on the start list and it will be even more so if she does not race. Just wondering…. Maria Riesch starts number 2 which is a perfect number in the current conditions and Lindsey starts 16. More to Maria’s advantage is that Christian Schwaiger, the German coach, sets the first run.
Lenzerheide is a very tough slalom hill with an extremely steep and narrow start “chute.” It drops right away for about 10 to 12 turns before bending to the left and traversing a little. Then it bends back to the right and toward the finish with a lot of minor terrain and major break-overs before taking a short dive to the finish. It can be tough to get the minimum here if you like to set at 11 to 12 meters so I would think we would see 10 meter slalom again. And Schwaiger might even go for 9 meters as that might favor Maria more than Lindsey. And with Schild having wrapped up the slalom title, it has to be in the back of his mind.