Americans round out top five on home snow

Melanie Wong
Ted Ligety rips around a gate in Pete's Arena during the Birds of Prey downhill in Beaver Creek on Friday. Better known for strong finishes in the giant slalom, Ligety finished in the points in 28th.
Townsend Bessent | |

BEAVER CREEK — The American men celebrated a successful day on home snow at the Birds of Prey World Cup downhill at Beaver Creek on Friday, landing Steven Nyman and Travis Ganong in the top five, coming in third and fifth place, respectively.

Nyman solidified a podium spot early on in the race, dominating his run from the start gate. The 13-year U.S. Ski Team veteran built his run from there, taking aggressive turns and getting big air on the course’s trademark jumps. This mark’s Nyman’s third podium at Beaver Creek, a course he names as his favorite, and fifth World Cup podium.

The course requires that you do everything well, he said, and he knew he had to unleash his speed once he got to a section of the course called The Brink.

“I just said, ‘Go! Throw your body down the hill and search for speed every single turn,’” he said. “I just thought to project myself down the hill, and stay over my skis. I made one mistake in the Pumphouse section, and other than that I thought I skied really well. It was so cool flying off all those jumps. I saw all other people’s landing tracks and I went by them, and thought, ‘I’m flying.’”

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Breakout race for Ganong

Travis Ganong, a native of Squaw Valley, California, took fifth, his third World Cup top five. Ganong has been on a breakout streak since the end of last season, including a top-five finish at the Olympic downhill race in Sochi, Russia. On Friday, he had his best Beaver Creek showing despite suffering a tibial plateau fracture while training at Copper in early November.

The injury forced him to rest for a couple weeks, but he says the “tweak” is not inhibiting his skiing too much, and he has high hopes for the rest of the season.

“I hope we can keep the snowball rolling, and hopefully step on top of the podium a couple times this year,” he said. “I’ve got to really fight for the overall now. There are a lot of contenders now with Aksel (Lund Svindal) out.”

Bode Miller was notably missing, out for the beginning of the season recovering from back surgery.

Other Americans, who are still awaiting their target races in the giant slalom and super-G categories, had respectable top 30 finishes in the downhill. Ted Ligety, who is eying the top of the podium at Sunday’s giant slalom, finished 28th. Andrew Weibrecht took 30th, despite starting third from last. Marco Sullivan came in 38th, Jared Goldberg took a wild ride down the hill and finished 40th, and Tommy Biesemeyer finished 54th.

Biesemeyer is returning to the World Cup circuit following a blown ACL last year. He is out this weekend looking for World Cup points to build his season back up.

All in the family

During the downhill race, Nyman could be seen cheering from the edge of his seat for Ganong from the finish area. That’s indicative of the cohesiveness the men’s team has, especially with the help of new speed coach Alex Hoedlmoser, racers said.

“We’re all really good friends. This is our family,” Ganong said. “We ski hard and train hard and travel all over the world together.”

Racers said that Hoedlmoser has brought a simple, effective approach to the team and is great at getting his racers prepared for game day.

“He’s so good at talking to us the night before and getting us in the right mindset,” Ganong said. “He really knows how to prep athletes to win.”

Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 and at Follow her on Twitter @mwongvail.

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