Good course, crowds at final men’s downhill training
BEAVER CREEK — After packing the venue full for the women’s downhill, crowds also took in a number of the men’s training runs at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships today. But while Red Tail Stadium was jammed for Steven Nyman, the first home team racer to attack the Birds of Prey downhill course, the best American on the day didn’t enjoy nearly as large an ovation as the crowd had dissipated considerably by the time Andrew Weibrecht’s run, the fourth fastest overall, was complete.
Weibrecht stunned those who had stuck around by coming from 41st start position to land .41 off the time set by Frenchman Brice Roger, who had been leading the field while the 20 skiers between him and Weibrecht raced and would go on to finish fastest today.
Weibrecht, modest as always, said the snow had been hardening up nicely by the time his run came around.
“The track is in great condition,” he said. “It’s always been one of my favorites.”
THE MIND OF NYMAN
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The next fastest American — .1 off Weibrecht’s time and seventh overall — was Steven Nyman, who also praised the course.
“Yesterday (the super-G) was kind of bally to push on,” Nyman said. “Today it has a little more wetness and it’s bumpy, and I like that.”
Charging into the stadium from his training run to an explosion from the audience, Nyman said it wasn’t just the course that had him excited, but the crowds, as well. He said Friday he has never seen such a large crowd at a training run in the U.S.
“There’s a lot of people here, and they’re here for the races, and that’s what’s so cool,” he said. “I was kind of fearful, in the beginning, wondering if people are going to show up, after going to the 2013 World Championships in Schladming where there was 60,000 people at every single race. This is awesome, for the women’s downhill there was people lining the whole hill.”
Nyman said he often thinks about the final Golden Eagle jump into the stadium, and the fans awaiting his finish below.
“That’s a motivator, when you come off that jump and you know they can see you, it’s almost pulling me into the finish area,” he said. “To come across in the lead here, which I’ve done a couple of times, is pretty cool.”
After being taken to Vail Valley Medical Center Thursday for an examination on his left shoulder, Kjetil Jansrud showed the rest of the field he was doing OK today. Jansrud took a line extremely inside in Thursday’s super-G, destroying a gate and leaving his shoulder in a lot of pain. He told reporters after hitting the gate his arm was numb for the remainder of the race, but he still managed to finish in fourth place on the day. He finished today’s training run in second, .21 off Roger and remains a favorite for the win Saturday despite the pain he may still be in.
With Bode Miller also out due to injury, the other American joining Nyman as a favorite for top results is Travis Ganong, who, along with Nyman, has already notched a win on the World Cup circuit this season.
Ganong said he was experimenting with a new line in Friday’s training run, which didn’t work out as he had hoped (he finished 22nd), and is trying to stay relaxed heading into the big show today.
“I’m just trying to have fun and be a really solid skier,” he said. “That’s when I always ski my best.”