Team event serves as tune-up for tech skiers
Special to the Daily
GOLDEN PEAK — The dual format racing at Golden Peak on Tuesday for the Nations Team Event and Wednesday for the Korbel Legends Race might look like it was designed for sheer crowd entertainment value, but for athletes competing in the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships giant slalom and slalom races today through Sunday, the parallel races were actually beneficial, not just technically but emotionally.
“I was a little nervous before the (Nations Team Event), but then I thought, ‘What’s the point?’ It’s a good warm-up for the other races. It’s good to get over that nervous barrier,” said hometown hero Mikaela Shiffrin, who won both her heats on Tuesday.
Tech specialist David Chodounsky seconds that notion. Like Shiffrin, the American has spent the last two weeks training for the GS and slalom races and he appreciated getting the competitive juices flowing at the Nations Team Event.
“I love these events,” Chodounsky said. “It’s something different and it gets your mind tuned in to racing.”
A BIT OF RISK INVOLVED
Naturally, there is a bit of risk involved in launching down a parallel course right before your marquee individual events, but most racers acknowledge that it’s worth it for the enjoyment and also for enlisting some tech skills before the big races.
“For sure it’s a little risky, but this is ski racing, so at least I would like to give it a shot,” said Sweden’s Andre Myhrer, whose team took the bronze medal on Tuesday. “Obviously when we do that race on slalom skis, we are using some slalom skills, but the parallel is kind of a combination of GS and slalom.”
There is one stressful element on the parallel course that athletes don’t have typically, and that’s the pressure of racing side-by-side.
‘‘IT’S GREAT FUN’
“You have someone right next to you the whole way. You can always see him in the side mirror,” said Norway’s Leif Kristian Haugen. “Every team is putting in their best guys, so the event is getting more and more prestigious. I think it’s great fun. And a great way to start off the Championships.”
It doesn’t hurt to go into the individual races with a top finish under your belt, especially fighting from the backfield, as Team Canada did to land the silver medal on Tuesday.
“It’s good for the confidence, good for the head, good for the body. So we’ll try to do it again on Friday in the GS and Sunday in the slalom,” said Canadian tech specialist Phil Brown.
RACING FOR THE TEAM
For Canadian Erin Mielzynski, the team event perhaps helped her through more nerves than she’ll even have to face in the remaining Championships races. She did her team well by winning all four of her heats to secure the silver medal.
“I hope it helps prepare me, but I think it’s still a lot of nerves. You can let a team down if you don’t do well, in all the other races it’s just yourself,” Mielzynski said, adding that gliding into the start house on any course, be it a GS, slalom or the team event, all experience is beneficial. “It’s still rolling up to ski. Standing in the start, it’s you. It’s David versus Goliath. It’s a big stepping stone for us coming into these races.”
The graduates of Vail Mountain School’s class of 2019 will be off to far-flung destinations next fall, set to enter college in one of 16 different states or explore the world on a gap year. One grad is even attending college in Canada.