BEAVER CREEK — For the American ski racers at the Birds of Prey Men’s World Cup downhill, the home-field advantage just wasn’t there.
Snowy conditions, cold, chalky snow, an unfamiliar course and only one training run worth of practice combined for a tough day on the Beaver Creek course on Friday, with Bode Miller leading the U.S. squad in 13th.
But the American downhillers didn’t seem disappointed in the team’s performance overall, saying the tough conditions made things especially unpredictable.
“I thought I skied pretty well,” Miller said. “I hit the line I wanted to. I made all the adjustments I wanted to from yesterday. And I took some risk in the turns, and I definitely was pushing a bit. Even though it was not a great result, I’m happy with it. I skied the way I needed to ski.”
First out of the gate for the Americans was Steven Nyman, the third racer of the day.
“I did alright, except in one turn,” said Nyman. “I just kind of lost my feet and came in a little back, but I thought I skied pretty well other than that.”
Nyman ended up finishing 21st and said he thought his teammate Travis Ganong, who raced immediately after Nyman in the fourth spot, had a great run for how early he raced in the competition.
“The more people that go over it, the faster the track will become,” he said.
All about timing
Ganong finished 15th and was second among the Americans.
“I’m happy with my skiing ... I’m definitely skiing way faster and way stronger than I was last season,” Ganong said. “On one turn I kind of got low; other than that it was a really good run and I liked it ... It was just timing a little bit, that’s all it takes on those wide, roller turns, just timing.”
Eight years Ganong’s senior at 33, Marco Sullivan speaks from experience and echoed young Ganong’s statements in regards to the timing of the turns on this year’s downhill course, which has more turns than the course that’s normally set.
“Coming back onto Birds of Prey, I didn’t have a very good turn, and you really don’t get a chance to make more speed from there,” Sullivan said. “I actually had some really good turns, just where it counted, carrying that speed off the pitch.”
Sullivan finished 28th. Rounding out the American squad was Erik Fisher in 29th, Ted Ligety in 39th and Jared Goldberg in 49th.