Does Ligety repeat in today’s super-G race?
Before we get to breaking down today’s men’s super-G of the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, the bigger question is “Will we race?”
Yep, there was very little snow during January, and then Worlds come to town — and, boom, as John Madden would say.
The National Weather Service, as of this writing, has a winter weather advisory for wind and 6-10 inches through today. (By the way, get the Vail 2015 app for your phone, and you can get all the advisories sent out to the teams and the media. It’s really useful if you’re planning to attend.)
Weather permitting, we’ve got plot lines galore. Your defending champion at Worlds is Ted Ligety (Bib No. 3). Speaking of bib numbers, we actually had a reader who read “Julia Mancuso (9)” on Tuesday and believed that meant we thought the Olympic former gold medalist was, in fact, 9 years old, which would have made for quite the story. (That makes Mikaela Shiffrin, 19, eligible for social security.)
So to clarify, Ligety (3), who is actually 30, will have a tough go of attempting to repeat.
Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud (17) — again, that’s his bib, but congratulations on your driver’s license, Kjetil — is the man to watch. He won the Olympic super-G last year in Russia. Can he join Austria’s Anna Fenninger as a double winner of Olympic and Worlds super-G within a 12-month period?
Jansrud, by the by, leads the World Cup in super-G points, finished second at Beaver Creek, despite a major bobble, in December, and was the fastest in training on Tuesday.
Italy’s Dominik Paris (20) won the Kitzbuehel, Austria, super-G before everyone came to town, and Austria’s Hannes Reichelt (19) is the defending Birds of Prey super-G champ.
The lowdown on the men’s super-G:
• Format: One run with the fastest time winning, as long as you stay within the gates. Racers will get an inspection of the course set, but not ski it before the race.
• Course numbers: The regular super-G start on Birds of Prey starts at 10,995 feet and drops 2,201 feet during a mere 1.04 miles.
• Weather: As noted, the big question. The Vail 2015 app says we’ve got a high of 29 today. The bigger question is snow. Even if there is racing, snow can give an advantage sometimes to those who go early. Good karma for Ligety?
• Notable winners of yore in super-G here: Norway’s Lasse Kjus and Hermann Maier shared the gold during the 1999 Worlds. Maier also won in 1997. Fredrik Nyberg, of Norway, took it in 2000, snapping the Herminator’s streak of seven wins in as many starts at Beaver Creek. Reichelt has won three times here, including the first World Cup win of his career in 2005.
Things to know
• Watch out: If it’s the regular start, then the Screech Owl Turn is right out of the gate. Maintaining the balance of speed and control through the course’s last three jumps, Golden Eagle, Harrier and Redtail is always key. The Abyss, between Golden Eagle and Harrier, tends to through racers off course.
• Favorites: In addition to Jansrud, Paris and Reichelt, Switzerland’s Patrick Kueng (16) and Austria’s Georg Streitberger (14) have wins here. Austrian’s Otmer Streidinger (18) and Matthias Mayer (21) should be in the mix.
• Dark horses: There are two racers, Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal (15) and Bode Miller (9), making their return from injury. Could they pull the rabbit out of the hat? Ligety also has to be in this category.
• Americans (bib number, not age): Ligety (3), Miller (9), Andrew Weibrecht (12), Travis Ganong (23) and Steve Nyman (29). The mathematically astute will have determined that there are five, not four, Americans in the race. If a nation has the defending champ — Ligety — said champ automatically qualifies and does not count against the nation’s four entries.
• The picks: Our gurus did OK, all going with Lindsey Vonn on Tuesday. If you haven’t heard, she won bronze. Today, Vail Daily sports editor, Chris Freud, and the paper’s ski goddess Shauna Farnell take Reichelt. Pat Graham, of AP Denver, goes with Miller.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.