Meaningful or not, Jansrud tops training
Birds of prey 2015
Downhill training No. 2, 10:45 a.m.
Downhill, 10:45 a.m.
Super-G, 11 a.m.
Giant slalom, 9:45 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.
BEAVER CREEK — Of course, it’s only downhill training, but with that disclaimer, the scoreboard after the first day of training at Birds of Prey on Wednesday at Beaver Creek was looking rather familiar.
Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud, the defending Birds of Prey downhill champion, clocked the fastest time, punching in at 1 minute, 44.04 seconds, followed by Switzerland’s Carlo Janka (1:44.29) and Germany’s Josef Ferstl (1:44.30).
The field has another practice run today at 10:45 a.m. with the downhill on tap for Friday at the same time.
Jansrud wasn’t ready to pop the cork on some champagne after taking Wednesday’s training. He had some solid — ninth in the downhill and seventh in the super-G — but not spectacular results last weekend in the opening speed races of the season up in Lake Louise, Alberta.
“I think Saturday (in Lake Louise), I just wanted it a little too much, but I still was fast in the flat sections,” Jansrud said. “Sunday, I skied a good super-G, and still lost in the fast sections. I made some minor adjustments to my equipment, and, hopefully, I’ll take away those things.”
The Ice Man returneth?
Janka was a familiar face on Wednesday. Again, training results should be taken with a grain of salt as many, including Janka, missed gates and were not disqualified because of the casual attitude toward practice sessions.
Nonetheless, Janka is not a stranger to the podium here. The Ice Man, as he’s been dubbed, swept the 2009 Birds of Prey races — wins in super-combined, downhill and giant slalom — on his way to a World Cup championship. The only other racer to sweep at Beaver Creek is Hermann Maier, so that’s always good company.
“It’s always good to be back here,” Janka said. “I like the place. When the conditions are like today, it’s good to race here. It helps, of course, very much the more often you race here, the more experience you have to make the turns. It helps a lot.”
Janka took fifth in the Lake Louise downhill and was a DNF in super-G.
After Ferstl, it was Italy’s Peter Fill and France’s Guillermo Fayed, both downhill regulars, in fourth and fifth respectively.
Wednesday saw two big bib-hoppers with France’s Thomas Mermillod Blondin going from the 66th bib to sixth and Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, wearing No. 58, finishing eighth.
The vets are back
Speaking of Norwegians, all eyes are on Aksel Lund Svindal after he swept the downhill and super-G wins in Lake Louise. That’s a good start to the season for anyone, but particularly good for a guy who missed most of last season with a ruptured Achilles tendon.
“I like to be the underdog if I can, but it’s a hard thing if you win races,” he said in the finish area.
It’s not like the rest of the circuit feels bad for Svindal, who was ninth on Wednesday.
Despite a lot of success here, Svindal said he took his foot off the gas on Wednesday.
“I still know from back in 2007, you don’t get any World Cup points by nailing the first training run at Beaver Creek,” said Svindal, referring to his crash on Golden Eagle that year, which cost him the rest of the 2007-08 season. “That will bite you real fast in the ass. Now, I still have to ease into Beaver Creek. I was a little conservative.”
Austria’s Hannes Reichelt is back at his home away from home. Seventh in Wednesday’s training, he’s the defending Birds of Prey super-G champion and also won gold in that discipline during February’s FIS Alpine World Ski Championships here.
“Really nice to be back here on this course and slope,” Reichelt said. “In downhill, I have to work a little bit because I didn’t have such good results as super-G. But I’m looking forward also to the super-G, of course. It’s always nice to come back on a course where you have so much success.”
Steve Nyman was the top American in training with an 11th-place finish. American Ted Ligety did not participate in training on Wednesday.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.
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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.