Ganong leads Americans into Beaver Creek
BEAVER CREEK — Hot on the heels of a successful weekend at the Lake Louise, Alberta, World Cup, Travis Ganong has made himself the American to watch at this weekend’s Birds of Prey.
The 27-year-old Squaw Valley, California, native said he is feeling confident after taking third in the downhill at Lake Louise and barely off the podium (tied for fourth) for the super-G, and is looking forward to unleashing at Beaver Creek. Birds of Prey is his kind of course, he says, and it has historically treated him well — he took silver on the downhill course here during the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in February.
“I have high expectations, but I’m going to focus on the little things (about the course) and let it take care of itself,” said Ganong after his first training run on Wednesday. “It’s a fun course, with lots of nice terrain and good, technical turns. I can push harder, find speed and carry that onto the flats. That’s my bread and butter, and this hill is all about carrying your speed from Pumphouse to the flats and down to the finish. I’m definitely looking forward to it.”
However, despite the results, Ganong says he still feels like the underdog, especially among elder teammates like Andrew Weibrecht, Steven Nyman and Marco Sullivan, who are seasoned World Cup veterans.
“I wake up, and I feel like an underdog, like I have something to prove,” he said. “I’m still younger than all the legends that I grew up watching, so I still have a lot of work to do and feel like I’m still working my way up. There’s a lot more to come. I have started to get results and have some credentials, but still not compared to some of these other guys.”
Ganong cruised in mid-pack during Wednesday’s training run, scoping out the course and focusing on the details.
“I was just cruising today and checking it out,” he said.
On home snow
Speaking of veterans, Nyman also has high hopes for Friday’s downhill, where he’s scored three podiums, including third place at last year’s race. He was disappointed with his results at Lake Louise, but he says he’s injury-free and feeling fast going into this weekend.
“I’m comfortable here. It’s one of those courses I just understand, and I know where to invest a line and where to gain. It’s just a joy to ski as well,” he said. “We’re here on home snow. You want to throw down and do well, and this is one of those tracks I know I can do well. I have three podiums here, and I know it’s going to be fun this week.”
Meanwhile, Weibrecht has historically had some very fast runs on the Birds of Prey course, including a top-10 downhill finish at last season’s World Championships. And Marco Sullivan is looking to find some speed after disappointing finishes at Lake Louise.
Life without Bode
There’s a Bode Miller-shaped hole in the U.S. Men’s Ski Team this year, but Ganong and others say they are gladly stepping up to fill the spot. Miller, while he hasn’t announced his retirement officially, is working for NBC this season.
“Last year, Steven Nyman and I won a race,” said Ganong. “I won a World Championships medal. We’re on the right track, so there’s not a void at all.”
Nyman said it’s an exciting time for other racers to be recognized.
“Travis, Marco and I, we have history. We want to start pushing and making a name for ourselves and winning titles. It’s not just the Bode show all the time. It’s a different puzzle,” he said.
This season has also been a chance for young racers on the team to learn and improve. Wiley Maple did not ski on Wednesday after hurting his ankle. Jared Goldberg missed Lake Louise due to a back injury, but he is planning to race at Beaver Creek. Bryce Bennett and Tommy Biesemeyer are two other young Americans in the mix this weekend.
“There’s a lot of young guys who have a lot of questions. We’re a tight knit group and willing to share information and help each other along. A lot of our young guys are pretty fast,” said Nyman.
Assistant Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 and email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @mwongvail.