BEAVER CREEK — As American Travis Ganong carved his way down the Birds of Prey course during a training run, it was clear the 25-year-old skier was having a good day. After crossing the finish line at Beaver Creek, he grinned, pleased with a run that would place him seventh for the training day.
While training runs don’t always foreshadow race day results, Ganong is definitely feeling good, and it is a season that he hopes will become a breakout year.
Ganong is among a very competitive American speed team this year, and like on the women’s side, there are a number of fast skiers vying for a few Olympic spots. The men’s team came off an extremely successful season in 2012-2013, and this year they’ve started off the year with some mixed results. However, many members of the team have done very well at Birds of Prey in the past.
Men to watch
Here are some of the American men to keep your eye on this weekend and as the season goes on:
Ted Ligety: As always, Ligety is a contender for the giant slalom crown, although he has seen great success with his super-G racing in recent years. He’ll be looking to repeat his triple gold World Championships result this season.
Bode Miller: He’s had six Beaver Creek podiums, including four downhill wins. Despite a recent scandal involving his child custody battle, Miller said he’s focused and that his injured knee, which sidelined him last season, is feeling strong.
Steven Nyman: The Utah native won the Val Gardena downhill last year, nearly six years after he won the race for the first time. He said a hard summer of training seems to have paid off, and he had an encouraging 19th place finish at Lake Louise, Alberta, last week.
“My main thing is consistency,” he said. “I want to be consistent, pushing at the top of every race. I know I can ski well everywhere. We’ll see what the season gives us. I feel way more confident than I ever have on my skis. I have to trust in my abilities and myself. I worked really hard this summer and have never felt this good before.”
Nyman tweaked his back during the Lake Louise race, but he said the after-effects aren’t hampering him for Beaver Creek.
Travis Ganong: The Squaw Valley, Calif., native is an up-and-comer, posting top 30 finishes in all but two World Cup downhills last season. He had a career best seventh on the challenging Stelvio speed track in Bormio, Italy.
Training is going well, he said, but he’s waiting for those podium results.
“What I’ve been dealing with the last few years is learning how to translate my training into my racing,” said Ganong. “Every day is awesome. I’m learning what works and what doesn’t work. I have the skills that it takes to be fast, and it’s a matter of not getting overexcited on race day and just having fun and having a smile on my face.”
Depending on how he races this season, Ganong hopes to secure a spot on the Olympic team.
Tim Jitloff: Here’s a little known fact — the 28-year-old from Reno, Nev., keeps up with Ligety on GS training runs. He’s yet to bring that speed to competitions, but if he does, he could step into Ligety’s shoes in a few years.
And don’t forget: Marco Sullivan took third in last year’s opening downhill at Lake Louise. Some newer racers also posted some good training runs at Thursday’s practice, including Erik Fisher, who posted the third fastest American time. Nick Daniels and Jared Goldberg are both in their second seasons on the World Cup circuit.
Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 and firstname.lastname@example.org.