Strobl fastest in training
BEAVER CREEK – There was one thing Bode Miller’s teammates and the forerunners for Wednesday’s downhill training run had to say as they watched Miller tear down the course:”Well … he doesn’t suck.”He certainly doesn’t.Neither do any of the 70 skiers that flew down the Birds of Prey downhill course Wednesday, who were trying to warm their legs and test their lines for today’s super-G race.Austria’s Fritz Strobl, famous for winning training runs (and also for his six World Cup career downhill victories and a whopping 59 top-10s), stuck with the tendency today. Despite taking a pole in the eye during training crash last weekend in Lake Louise, Alberta, Strobl’s vision appeared to be in perfectly working order as he shot under the finish line with the winning time of 1 minute, 41.01 seconds, ahead of teammate Hermann Maier (1:41.10) Miller (1:41.15).
“A racer will never really go 100 percent in the training run. He should do that in the race,” said Austrian coach Toni Giger. “For sure, they still try to be fast. Fritz is a guy who has a lot of best times in the first training. (Tuesday) we were discussing whether he should start or not, but he got the (approval) of the eye doctor to race.”As countless past examples have indicated, results of the training don’t typically indicate the winner of the official race. Although to win a training run can definitely instill a sizable piece of confidence into a racer.”You have good training and motivation for the race, but it depends on the skier,” Giger said. As Miller swept around the first big turn on the course Wednesday, his shoulder almost scraped the ground. While most racers try to find their most aerodynamic tuck for the last 200 yards of the course, Miller stood up before he crossed the finish line.He said afterwards that despite being one of the earlier racers (No. 9) down the course, there were some significant ruts around the gates.”It’s chalky. You can go just a5
bout anywhere you want to up there, which is good and bad,” he said. “It means the tracks are all over the place. Guys are skiing all kinds of different lines. But, I think it’s going to be great (today). I’ve been skiing a bit of a different line (around the first big left turn) the last few years. I go a little deeper and arc it bigger. A lot of the guys go a little tighter and don’t arc it as much. I wasn’t surprised by anything on the course. It was pretty standard. There were some deep tracks in there already and I was only No. 9. So, if it keeps getting cut up, they might need to do some injecting tonight. It’s that really dry, chalky snow, but it holds up surprisingly well. You can turn on it really well.”Birds of Prey organizers said that Beaver Creek race crews have been working 15-20 hours a day for seven days trying to clear last weekend’s snow (38 inches reported) off the race course and rebuild it to race-ready perfection.Although Miller’s teammate Daron Rahlves finished fourth (1:41.29) in Wednesday’s training run, he said he wasn’t feeling entirely focused and the single-digit temperatures didn’t help.”(The plan) was just basically, come out with a good, solid feeling and just looking ahead and that’s one thing I just wasn’t doing enough,” Rahlves said. “I felt really smooth – that’s what I wanted – trying to get the timing down on the turns. I was just a little out of it. I wasn’t super sharp. I think it’s the cold or something. Right out of the start, I noticed my face was starting to chill up pretty quick; I was like, ‘Ahh, here we go …’ This might be a little bit of frostbite at those speeds with this air. Especially in the shade, it’s at least 10 degrees colder.”
Racing against the same teamHad the two-run training format been in place, Wednesday’s run would have functioned as the run to determine Friday’s downhill race start lineup. Since Tuesday’s first run was canceled, Wednesday’s run did not serve as the qualifier – except for two U.S. racers. While most racers didn’t put down their fastest possible run Wednesday, Wade Bishop and Jakub Fiala had to compete for one available U.S. slot in Friday’s downhill. While neither skier admittedly put down a run with which they were very happy, Fiala took the spot, finishing in 1:44.29. “This was race mode for me, but I’m still figuring stuff out,” Fiala said. “They waxed mine and Wade’s skis the same to make it fair. It’s tough right now because I have a pretty good feeling – I felt like (the training run) was better than it was – I just don’t have the speed right now that I need. I’ll have a much better start in the super-G. That’s more my style. I’ll just hammer and see what I can do. I had a good result here last year, so I’m pretty confident on this hill.”Fiala finished 13th in last year’s Birds of Prey super-G. It was his best World Cup result. Although Bishop lost the spot in Friday’s downhill, a lot of his poor run (1:45.51) had to do with a stumble he took out of the start gate, and he will still get a crack at redemption in today’s super-G.”I took two skates and caught my outside edge,” he said. “I went 10 or 15 feet outside the line, so that cost me. You really have to be confident. A lot of guys, if it’s the first time on this hill, it’s pretty intimidating. But the top guys – Bode, Daron, Hermann – those guys know the hill and they’re just trying to test the race line. In (today’s) race, I’m just going out and letting it all hang out; score some World Cup points and open a spot for another American to race.”
On your marks …Fiala will be the second racer down today’s super-G course. The start order for this week’s races is determined by each racer’s World Cup standings in the respective disciplines (downhill, super-G, giant slalom and slalom). The first 30 racers down today’s course will be the reverse of the top-30 in super-G rankings.Strobl will be No. 14, Miller No. 18 and Switzerland’s Didier Cuche (who finished fifth Wednesday in 1:41.43) is No. 21.Maier and Rahlves, who are, respectively ranked the No. 1 and 2 in the world for super-G, will start at No. 29 and 30 in today’s race, which begins at 11 a.m. Sports Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or firstname.lastname@example.org.