Cook logs top run on Raptor training Day 2
BEAVER CREEK — U.S. Ski Team’s Stacey Cook came off the new Beaver Creek Raptor course on Tuesday slightly cowed by the technical course.
On Wednesday, the second training day of the Nature Valley Raptor Ladies World Cup Races, she came off the course with a different outlook — and, incidentally, the fastest time of the day, clocking in at 1 minute, 42:03 seconds.
“I really wanted to dial in the line yesterday, but there’s just so much to it that it took today as well,” she said of the course, which features a series of steep, tight turns more reminiscent of a giant-slalom course than a downhill. “I think I have the line now. I know what skis I’m going to ski on, and I’m going to just keep looking for speed tomorrow.”
That’s exactly what training days are for (the ladies have one more training day today before the race on Friday), but Cook admitted that this particular course required a change of tactic.
“Yesterday, I was kind of just put off by it. I said, ‘It’s so turn-y. This is not a downhill.’ I realized I needed to come to terms that this is what it was,” she said. “So today, I had to have a little more super-G technique and really enjoy the turns rather than resenting them. It’s hard for a downhiller.”
Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather took the second-fastest run with a time of 1:42:10. Switzerland’s Lara Gut, who had Tuesday’s fastest run, calmly ran the third fastest time at 1:42:12. Americans Leanne Smith and Julia Mancuso also finished in the top 20, and U.S. youngster Jackie Wiles placed in the top half of the pack.
Fans should also keep their eyes out on race day for Austrians Anna Fenninger and Nicole Hosp to ski well. They finished on Day 2 in fourth and eighth place, respectively.
‘We’ll see on Friday’
While times overall were faster, most racers said they weren’t pushing the pace at all. Training days are generally used to work out equipment kinks and get used to the course, not to take risks, so fans shouldn’t necessarily stake their race day predictions on training day results.
Gut said she’s withholding judgment on who the most dangerous competitors might be, responding, “We’ll see on Friday.”
“The first training, when you don’t know the slope, you’re just going to see what it is and check it out with a lot of reserve. Second training, you maybe change something, try something and try to ski, not just slip down. And third training, some girls are just skiing like a race and others try to take it easy. I’m just planning to ski fast in the race. Training is not that important,” said Gut.
However, it was already apparent who was doing well and who had a better feel for the tricky course. A right turn that required skiers to lean heavily on their left foot was giving some racers trouble. Weirather said it was a course that never let you relax.
“After 20 seconds (of flats,) you get into the pitch, and it falls off like a waterfall,” she said of the course. “Then after that, there are a lot of turns. It’s really tough and you have to ski really well on your outside ski and have the right timing. And then you get into the compression flats, then you come to the finish jump. You have to concentrate the whole time.”
Beaver Creek’s Raptor debut
Beaver Creek has rewarded competitors so far with sunny skies, warm temperatures and good course conditions. The inaugural Raptor races seem to be a success so far, and American skiers expressed their approval at having a World Cup stop on their own turf.
“It’s exciting to be here. There’s going to be a lot of family and friend support here this weekend. We’re psyched up for a new World Cup course at home, “ said Smith.
Europeans enjoyed the conditions as well, adding that they were excited to ski on Colorado’s famed snow.
“I love being here because it means the season is really starting,” said Weirather. “I really like the snow here. It makes it really fun to race.”
Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 970-748-2927.