Giant slalom, today 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
BEAVER CREEK – Today’s giant slalom is Bode Miller’s to lose.Miller started the year with GS and slalom as his specialty. But, he’s podiumed in all four speed events, including second in super-G and a win in downhill this week at the Birds of Prey.
He already has a GS title this year at Soelden, Austria. That was GS win No. 7 of Miller’s career. He won the GS at the Worlds at St. Moritz, Switzerland, and he is the defending World Cup champion in the discipline.For the uninitiated, a slalom is a two-run race with gates that the racers are required to negotiate. Miss a gate, DNF. In the giant slalom, the gates are a bit further apart, encouraging more speed. GS is also a two-run race. The best combined time wins.
The course starts just above The Pumphouse. Racers will have to handle Screech Owl Jump, Golden Eagle, The Abyss – which was not to kind to Miller last year, the Harrier Jump and finish with Red Tail.This is only the second time Birds of Prey has hosted a GS. Though Miller is the prohibitive favorite, there are plenty of other names on which to keep an eye. In December 1999 when the Park City, Utah, GS and slalom moved here, it was Hermann Maier who took the giant slalom.
Though he’s had two top-10s this week in the speed events, this has not been a Herminator-like performance at Beaver Creek this year. Watch out for Maier. There’s also Stephan Goergl of Austria who won gold in Thursday’s super-G. He has past podiums in GS.Others definitely in the mix are Kalle Palander, Massimiliano Blardone, Benjamin Raich, Andreas Shifferer, Hans Knauss, Christoph Gruber, Michael Walchhofer, Fredrik Nyberg and Didier Cuche.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.