Americans have strong showing at Birds of Prey super-G at Beaver Creek
BEAVER CREEK — During its only World Cup stop on American soil, the U.S. Ski Team displayed one of its most impressive Birds of Prey super-G performances in recent memory on Saturday at Beaver Creek.
With snow falling most of the day and slowing the racecourse, the Americans worked together on their home turf and landed five members in the World Cup points. Travis Ganong laid down the sixth-fastest time of the day with the No. 2 bib. Thomas Biesemeyer, who wore the No. 42 bib, skied his way to 11th place and Tommy Ford jumped from the 58th start to the 28th fastest time on the day.
Ted Ligety and Andrew Weibrecht were on the podium, finishing second and third, respectively.
“As a team, we haven’t had a good super-G race here in a while, so it’s awesome to see us doing a good job today,” Ganong said.
Ganong was the first American down the Birds of Prey racecourse on a day where conditions varied, but the plan stayed the same.
“No matter what the conditions are, I always want to go first. I want to go early; that’s just my style,” Ganong said. “I don’t like watching other people ski. I like to have my plan from inspections and stick to it and trust my abilities.”
Ganong has started the World Cup season with success in super-G. He finished tied for fourth at Lake Louise, Alberta, last weekend and is currently third in the super-G standings.
With the first American down the racecourse, the U.S. Ski Team members started communicating the plan of attack on the challenging course.
“Travis gave me a great report again today,” Weibrecht said. “He ran early, and that’s always a little bit tougher. He basically told me that it’s totally chargeable, it’s super easy and just to absolutely hammer it. And that was the perfect advice.”
BZ MAKES IT LOOK EASY
Biesemeyer put together the best super-G result of his young career Saturday, establishing himself as an American contender. It was a long time coming for the U.S. Ski Team member who is finding himself again after sustaining ACL and MCL injuries in 2014.
“It gets that monkey off your back. Being on the sidelines for two years is obviously hard, but also inspiring,” Biesemeyer said. “To come out here today and walk away with 11th is awesome. My inner competitiveness starts to come through and you start to realize how close you are to the next step, and that’s knocking on the door of a podium. But I’m not greedy and I take it for what it is.”
In his return from injury, Biesemeyer has been benefiting from training with his American teammates.
“Having access to the top guys in the world to train with and being able to ski faster or just as fast as those guys gives the whole team confidence,” he said.
FORD MAKING HIS MARK
In his first World Cup super-G race since April 2012, Ford was one of the last racers to start Saturday. The young American took full advantage of his opportunity and skied his way to a top-30 finish.
With the sun finally trying to poke through, Ford entered the start gate with less variable conditions as some of the other racers.
“I hadn’t really been watching because I was over on the other side. It sounded like it was pretty crazy, but I had some sun,” he said.
Ford looks forward to competing in the giant slalom today at Beaver Creek in front of the American fans.
“It doesn’t get any better,” he said. “People are fired up on us — and ski racing in general. It’s cool.”
The crowd at Redtail Stadium was electric all day, with chants of “U.S.A.” ringing out as each American made their way to the finish area.
“It’s our only home race,” Biesemeyer said of Birds of Prey, “so we sort of as a team treat it as our baby. We want to walk away with the fans proud of us, and I think we did that today.”
The fans left the grandstands when it was all said and done and headed to the fresh powder that awaited them at Beaver Creek.
“I love coming to Beaver Creek,” Weibrecht said. “It’s fun. The fans here are great. They’re cheering for us. It’s a great atmosphere and a great place to race as an American.”
Rounding out the Americans, Steven Nyman finished 35th, Tim Jitloff finished 36th and Bryce Bennett finished 42nd. Jared Goldberg did not finish.
Vail Daily reporter Ross Leonhart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Instagram @Colorado_Livin_On_The_Hill.