OK, welcome to our potpourri of sporting observations, which is essentially designed for me to put off filling out my NCAA bracket. (I haven’t won the Vail Daily pool since UConn topped the field in 1999. I am simply giving over my $10 and hoping not to finish last. That looks bad as the sports editor.)
• We start in Squaw Valley, Calif., in my ancestral state, because the Nature Valley U.S. Alpine Championships start today with women’s giant slalom. According to a release sent out by the U.S. Ski Team, such dignitaries as Madame Mikaela Shiffrin and Ted Ligety will be attending.
It’s going to be interesting to see how the two race this week. Both have established they’re pretty decent in their respective disciplines and really don’t have much more to prove this winter after winning globes and Olympic golds. Do they simply take cruisers, and, by doing so, lower the race points for the field of aspiring racers, or go for an actual national championship?
Shiffrin won national championships in slalom in 2011 and 2012. And here’s some fun trivia — Ligety actually has more slalom national titles (2005, 2006 and 2013) than GS crowns (only 2007). That surprised me, too.
• Squaw had a FIS race today, which Tim Jitloff captured, followed by Mark Engle and Ryan Cochran-Siegle. Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s Will Gregorak was fourth. Other familiar names included Seppi Stiegler (19th), Alex Leever and Taylor Shiffrin tied for 37th. (Serendipity, people?).
• OK, we’ve pulled the trigger on Florida over Albany. I feel good about this. I’m coming for you, Ross. That would be Ross Leonhart, the copy chief who won our pool last year. He still has his winning bracket posted right by his desk.
• One result to report from the world of preps on Wednesday. Aspen beat Eagle Valley, 17-3. The Devils’ goals came from Johnny Bailey, Sam Boomhower and Quinn McCord. It’s interesting to note that Aspen (not Steamboat Springs) is ranked No. 2 in 4A in the latest CHSAA poll. Devils coach Ted Boddy said that he wouldn’t be surprised to see the Skiers stay somewhere in the top three for most of the season.
As for the Devils, both the girls and the boys teams head to Edwards for a Monday double-dip against Battle Mountain.
“Honestly, we are approaching it as another game,” Boddy said. “Our more experienced players are working hard with the young players to build toward the end of the season. We’re going to go out and change some things up on Battle Mountain and give them as hard of a time as we can.”
• As for Huskies boys lax, don’t get too smug. You’re 2-0, and you should be. You are not God’s gift to lacrosse quite yet.
• Tuesday’s Eagle Valley baseball game against Summit County was great fun. First off, it was cold, so I felt like I was at Candlestick. Second, Travis Edgar pitched his brains out, turning an ordinary preps story into something special. I’m just talking out my derriere here with this, so don’t mind me. Is there a way the Devils can pitch through the Steamboat doubleheader on Saturday without Edgar, so that the senior can be on full rest for single games against Delta (there on Tuesday) and here on April 1?
It’s gamble because the Devils need to beat the Sailors to make the games against Delta count. But this is why baseball is the greatest game ever because you chew the fat on this backward and forward.
• And, yes, I will be up at 2 a.m. on Saturday, rooting against the Dodgers in their season opener against Arizona in Australia. Opening up on the other side of the dateline is a really silly thing, but it couldn’t happen to a nicer team.
• Teams that always scare me in my bracket: Picking Kansas or Arizona. Too much postseason splatting from the Jayhawks and Wildcats. Harvard over Cincinnati is a trendy upset. I refuse to pick Harvard. For God, for country and for Yale.
• OK, a 16 beating a No. 1 is a long-shot upset. So is Rifle beating Battle Mountain girls soccer. This is a game where I could take over for Emily Cope at midfield, and the Huskies would still probably be OK. Coach David Cope would probably have to administer CPR after 10 minutes, which would not be pretty, but I had a sweet breakaway goal in 1980 in the second grade.
Ladies, play to your own level today. Every game has to be like you’re playing Steamboat Springs (nine days for the rematch) or Valor Christian.
• Fun soccer tweet from Cope: “Turns out the vote to put the World Cup in the desert on the summer was rigged! Who knew? #duhoh.” First off, obligatory plug for my twitter account @cfreud. Second, what in the heck is the 2022 World Cup doing in Qatar? It’s kind of warm and blistering there in the summer.
What’s more in the wake of the Sochi Olympics and the ensuing events, international sports festivals need to be a little more mindful of where to place these things. It’s nice to move the World Cup around. It should be in Brazil this summer, even though infrastructure is probably questionable, but Russia (2018) and Qatar (2022)? General respect for international law and women’s rights needs to be in the equation.
Best-attended World Cup ever? It was 1994 in the United States. How about doing that again, realizing that we have even better stadia now than we did then? (Cotton Bowl or Jerry’s World in Dallas? RFK or FedEx Field in D.C?) This ain’t hard.
• Colorado pitcher Jhoulys Chacin is already shelved until early May. OK, let’s call it. The Rockies’ slogan for 2014 is “But for the grace of the Padres.” Really, I think Colorado sports fans might want to proceed directly to Broncos training camp.
• On that note, taking Pitt over CU today. I still don’t understand what CU has brought to the Pac-10/12. Except, of course, in cross-country and track. (That’s for Jonny Stevens and Val Constien.)
• And we bring you a new NBA playoff format. The Western Conference plays it down like normal. In the East, the Heat and Pacers just play each other in three best-of-7s.
• I have Syracuse, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Wichita State with the Spartans topping the Shockers in the final. All four teams, naturally, are doomed.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.