Americans ski to mixed results in downhill |

Americans ski to mixed results in downhill

BOP Sullivan downhill DT 12-05-08

BEAVER CREEK, Colorado ” The American Ski Team’s slogan on pins and buttons this week reads, “All Out.”

The eight red, white and blue skiers who took on the Birds of Prey downhill course on Friday certainly did that. Unfortunately, it was to mixed results.

The Americans followed up two disappointing DNFs by Bode Miller and Marco Sullivan with a number of solid finishes.

“You’re up there and you see all the DNFs and you’re like, ‘What’s the deal?'” Steven Nyman said. “I think it’s our pride. We want it so bad. We want to do well here. We are just charging. Sometimes, it brings out mistakes and sometimes it doesn’t.”

Bode Miller, a favorite in nearly every race he enters, led the American contingent into the starting gate in the No. 20 bib to loud cheers from the crowd. Less than a minute later, hundreds of stunned fans fell silent.

After the Flyway, Miller started to lose control of his skis, nearly heading out of bounds. He tried to regain his balance, but it wasn’t in time before Screech Owl. To avoid hitting a gate, Miller flung his body to the right sending him spiraling down the course on his backside. The 31-year-old stayed on the ground for a couple of minutes before skiing off the course.

The pro-American crowd revved up for the next skier, Marco Sullivan, only to be disappointed again. This time, Sullivan skied wildly out of bounds after also missing the Screech Owl Gate to end his run.

“I have like 40-strong busing out for the Marco fan club,” Sullivan said, refering to a large contingent of freinds and family wearing green stocking caps. “I’m super-disappointed not to be able to step up for them today. It’s going to make me try harder tomorrow in the super-G.”

Americans rebound

Despite poor runs from two crowd favorites, the Americans rebounded to end the day with a number of strong finishes. Nyman toed the gate in the No. 25 bib, before skiing his way to seventh place in 1 minute, 44.57 seconds. This is the third year in a row Nyman’s finished in the top-10 at the Birds of Prey, after taking third and second the past two years.

“I knew I wasn’t going to be tired,” Nyman said about not racing since Tuesday’s downhill training. “I was going to be fit enough, and strong enough to give it everything I had, maybe a little bit more if necessary.”

T.J. Lanning and Scott McCartney weren’t far behind Nyman. The 24-year-old Lanning made an impressive run to finish in 13th place. McCartney ended the day in 21st.

“I was pretty happy with how I skied,” McCartney said. “I definitely needed to get more aggressive at the top, but it’s coming along. It was another step up from how I’ve been training. Overall, I was pretty happy ” more with my performance at the bottom of the course, especially. Going back up and doing it again, I know I could’ve done a lot better, but it’s a good step.”

The absence of an American in the top-three breaks a streak of five-straight years with one on the podium at the Birds of Prey.

Aggressive skiing

American Andrew Weibrecht knows only one way to ski ” aggressively. It worked last year when he went all the way from the No. 53 bib to 10th overall. Unfortunately, the same results didn’t follow the 22-year-old this year.

Attacking the course in Weibrecht fashion, he tried to cut a turn tight, only to have his left ski betray him. Weibrecht did a flip in the air before landing on his back and sliding into the security fence.

“My whole mindset today in that section was to go in, and really move to the right ski early to get over that roll,” Weibrecht said. “Right as I was moving to my right ski, my left ski caught and it just kind of pushed me.”

After the race, Weibrecht remained in high spirits. A bloody scrape on his nose was the worse of the damage and team doctors said everything else was OK. Weibrecht plans to ski in both the super-G and giant slalom this weekend.

Sports Writer Ian Smith can be reached at 970-748-2935 or

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