BEAVER CREEK — Erik Guay said he didn’t think he skied that well on Thursday.
Regardless, his training run of 1:43.48 on this year’s Birds of Prey World Cup men’s downhill course was the fastest in the field of 93 racers.
“I think I probably just pushed the line a little bit more than most,” he said after the run.
For Guay and the other racers, it was the first and only run they’ll receive on the course before Friday’s competition, which is scheduled to start at 10:45 a.m. Friday. This year’s Birds of Prey downhill course is a hybrid between the famed men’s course which many racers know and love, and a recently constructed women’s course which saw its first official competition last week. Training runs on the course, scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, were both canceled.
“It’s always fun to go on a new course and not really know what to expect,” Guay said on Thursday. “But the course runs fluid and smooth, it’s got some challenging sections to it, so it’s great. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.”
For the Americans, Travis Ganong ran the course fourth and finished with the seventh fastest time on the day at 1:44.03. Ganong, who won training at Birds of Prey last year, said he was happy with the run.
“It’s something to build off of, for sure,” he said.
Guay, the 19th competitor to run the course, said watching Ganong’s run was helpful.
“Travis Ganong was kind of inspiring me, I watched him when I was inside at the top lodge and he just looked smooth and easy, he was in all the right places,” Guay said. “So after watching him it just looked easy and I was like, ‘I can charge it.’”
American Bode Miller, a repeat podium finisher at Beaver Creek, ran seventh in Thursday’s training, and finished 66th with a time of 1:46.31.
“Through the Pump House (section of the course), I was going nowhere because I made bad turns,” Miller said.
Many of the racers in the field said the below-zero temps on the mountain Thursday slowed things down.
“Because it’s so cold, the speeds are down, for sure,” said Ganong.
But that wasn’t necessarily a disadvantage, Guay said. In the course feedback he gave to his teammates following his run, Guay said of the lower portion of the course: “Because it’s so cold, it is a little bit slower than regular, so you can push those lines and ski it aggressively.”
The National Weather Service is calling for a slight warm-up for Friday’s downhill, with a low of 3 degrees forecasted.