Disappointing day for Americans at Beaver Creek
BEAVER CREEK – It was a tough day for the U.S. Ski Team at Saturday’s Birds of Prey super-G race as the American men skied off course and missed a gate one after another, all in the same section of the race course.
American Bode Miller kicked off what would become a bad luck spot for the Americans. Miller came off a jump just before the Screech Owl jump, in the middle section of the course, and was too over-rotated on his landing to turn around in time for the next gate. He missed the gate and skied off course.
Miller’s report would be the first of many that would warn upcoming American racers about the tricky section of the course.
American Marco Sullivan then found out for himself how tough that section really was as he went off-course just slightly above where Miller did.
“It wasn’t the fault of our coaches,” Sullivan said. “We were told it was a tough section. … Maybe it wasn’t emphasized enough.”
Sullivan watched as teammates Andrew Weibrecht and Ted Ligety skied off course in the same spot where Miller went out, a major blow for the Americans in their only pair of World Cup races held in the United States all season.
“Our aggression or intensity maybe got the best of us,” Sullivan said. “You’ve got to be really patient and take the turn deep and bring it back. We were diving into that thing too early and it just caught us.”
Ligety said that the team just didn’t anticipate how big of a turn it was when they did their inspection of the course Saturday morning. He said there’s always a fine line in skiing super-G, and, unfortunately, the Americans were on the other side of that line Saturday.
“(The coaches) were telling us there was a turn there for sure – they were telling us to be clean on that section,” Ligety said. “We just didn’t know how much we really needed to set it up.”
When asked what went wrong Weibrecht said he wished he knew. Weibrecht said the team was skiing a similar line to the one they had practiced in downhill training earlier this week, but it was obviously not the right line.
“I don’t know what the difference is – it seems like it should have been something that worked,” Weibrecht said.
Weibrecht listened to Miller’s report about the section before skiing it, but he said the roll right before the section got the best of him.
He said he tried to hit the backside of the roll, but since the turn is banked there it wants to pull you in.
“We were going at an 11 o’clock angle off that roll instead of 12 o’clock, and that’s the difference,” Weibrecht said.
Some good news
It wasn’t all bad news for the Americans Saturday, as Steven Nyman finished 25th – the first top-30 finish for the Park City native in a super-G in about two years.
While Nyman said he was disappointed to see his teammates go out, he felt really good about his personal performance.
“I haven’t scored points in super-G for over a year now, so I’m pretty psyched to score points and get back in there,” Nyman said. “To go from (bib No.) 57 to 25, I’m happy.”
Nyman said he inspected the course differently than his teammates had and just stuck to his original plan as he saw the other guys miss their lines.
“I’m not sure what those guys inspected, but they said you had to swing it up and I knew you had to swing it up – that was my initial plan so I just stuck with it,” Nyman said.
Nyman, who had double knee surgery last year, said he felt strong today and feels like he’s been skiing great ever since training over the summer.
Nyman’s finish means the Americans will have another World Cup spot in Super G races for the rest of the season, for a total of 10 spots. The Americans only had four spots two years ago, said Doug Haney, spokesman for the U.S. Ski Team.
U.S. Ski Team Head Coach Sasha Rearick said Nyman’s finish is a huge success for the team.
American rookie Travis Ganong also finished strong, just barely getting nudged out of points with a 31st place finish. When he finished his run he was sitting at 28th and said he hoped he could keep that spot, but it didn’t happen.
Ganong said he had seen that his teammates didn’t finish the race and prepared himself for the tough sections on the course he had heard about.
“I’m not really sure what happened to everyone else,” Ganong said. “I just changed my line and set up more.”
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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