Super-G course tests racers on bouncing back | VailDaily.com

Super-G course tests racers on bouncing back

Melanie Wong
mwong@vaildaily.com
Bryce Bennett, of the United States,airs his way into The Abyss section of the Birds of Prey super-G course on Saturday at Beaver Creek. Despite the mistake, Bennett came down in one piece.
Justin Q. McCarty | Special to the Daily |

BEAVER CREEK — Don’t try this at home.

At Saturday’s super-G race, a number of World Cup racers showed the crowd how to recover unscathed when you get bounced suddenly off your feet going about 75 mph. For all the majestically executed runs and smooth technique, perhaps the more impressive displays of athleticism were seen when things went wrong. The Beaver Creek super-G in particular had racers on alert from the beginning, with tricky sections up top that ended some people’s races before they even got to the halfway point.

However, even with such superb examples of recovery, we certainly don’t recommend that you try to replicate such acrobatics on your own.

The Birds of Prey super-G course drops racers onto the steep incline of The Talon, sending them over the Peregrine Jump. Perhaps the reason racers had so many near misses was that they knew they had to attack early and hard throughout the short 1.16-mile course.

“It’s kind of a rough-and-tumble-fight kind of super-G,” said American Andrew Weibrecht, who had the crowd gasping and clapping as he careened — sometimes wildly — around corners during his run. “You get in the start and every time it’s like, ‘Am I going to pull this off? Am I not? But you’ve got to go, and you got to give it everything you got because anything less, and you’re definitely not going to finish.”

NEAR MISSES

Some notable recoveries of the day include Vincent Kriechmayr, of Austria, who missed a gate, sliding on his side for several moments before magically bouncing back up on one ski.

Then there was Switzerland’s Patrick Kueng, who was among the numerous racers who were thrown off by a portion called The Abyss. He also had a close call in Friday’s downhill, performing some ballet acrobatics to stay on his feet. On Saturday, he flew wildly off course and missed a gate, but managed to regain his balance and avoid a crash.

“I had too much pressure going into a turn, and then you can do nothing. You can wait and hope that you stand on your feet,” he said, adding that he was hurting from Friday’s downhill mishap. “I don’t know (how I stayed up.) Some seconds you feel like you’re in another world. You go so fast. I’m lucky I could (keep on my feet) today. In the super-G, you have to push and push. It was too much for me.”

Others were not so lucky. Austria’s Patrick Schweiger was unable to save his mistake. His ski caught, sending him sliding on his back and into the fencing. (He was able to ski away.)

So how do athletes recover when Birds of Prey flexes its talons? Most racers can’t really tell you — the key is conditioned reaction and staying focused, they say.

“I knew The Abyss was important, and I felt like I had full control,” said Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud, who took second despite a major bobble at The Abyss. “Then it spit me out, and I was on my side. Sometimes you’re off balance, and you have to react.”

France’s Alexis Pinturault was thrown off his line and nailed a gate with his head and shoulders on his way to third place. He shrugged, saying it’s all part of the sport.

“That’s skiing. Sometimes you can’t control everything in skiing, and that’s how it is,” he said. “You just have to adapt yourself. I tried to stay focused. I knew that I made a mistake, but I really tried to stay focused and ski hard to the end.”

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