Swiss skiers are the talk of Beaver Creek
BEAVER CREEK, Colorado – The Swiss have barely allowed any other country onto the podium this week at Beaver Creek.
It was another one-two punch for the land of alphorns and army knives Saturday, as Carlo Janka and Didier Cuche finished first and second, respectively, in the downhill.
Janka and teammate Didier Defago finished first and second in the super combined Friday.
While Austria has been the dominant team on the World Cup circuit for decades, the Swiss are the buzz of the Beav’ this week.
“They’ve just been super dominant and strong,” said American Steven Nyman. “It would be kind of cool for them to take the Nations Cup over the Austrians because the Austrians have a stranglehold on it for years.”
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Cuche said he and his countrymen know that their victorious streak may not last.
“You know, it can change so quickly,” Cuche said. “We have to enjoy this day, and we will see what the next day will bring.”
Michael Walchhofer, the Austrian speed specialist who was a favorite to win Saturday but ended up fifth, sounded ready for revenge.
“Now it’s on us to beat them,” he said.
‘Good to have him back’
The young U.S. Ski Team racers say they are enjoying being teammates once again with Bode Miller, who split with the team in 2007 only to rejoin this fall.
“It’s been great,” said American Andrew Weibrecht. “I think he’s a great resource, both in skiing and ski culture. He’s been through it all. To have a guy like that who can help you on the hill and deal with things off the hill is a huge asset to our team, and I think that everyone is going to ski better because of Bode being back.”
“it’s good to have him back, for sure,” said Marco Sullivan.
“Bode’s been helping me out a little bit and giving me some pointers here and there,” said Erik Fisher.
Bill Marolt, the president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Ski Team, said it’s been “great” to have Miller on the team again.
“He’s positive about being back and positive about what he’s doing and his part on the team,” Marolt said. “The kids on the team, they like to have him around.”
But is Miller different than he was during his previous tenure with the team, when he perturbed U.S. Ski Team officials with his late-night partying and his off-the-cuff comments to interviewers?
“He’s always been … ” Marolt paused, as if to catch himself. “Just like I said, we’re going to look ahead, and that’s where we are.”
Miller, perhaps the greatest American ski racer ever, said it’s nice to be back with the team. Teammates are enjoying watching each other ski and are pushing each other to succeed, he said. But he added that he doesn’t feel like any more of a role model or mentor in his second tenure with the team.
“I think it’s the same,” Miller said. “Ski racing is pretty individual. You can look to other guys, but you have to be figuring it out for yourself. That’s just the way the sport is.”
‘Really fun time’
The Marco Sullivan fan club was back and bigger than ever Saturday in the Beaver Creek grandstand.
About 50 Marco enthusiasts, wearing their trademark “Marco Rocks” green hats, were front and center in the stadium. They exploded into cheers when Sullivan, of Squaw Valley, Calif., came into view on the Golden Eagle Jump near the finish.
“It’s really cool, coming through and seeing them going crazy,” Sullivan said. “No matter what my result is, they’re here to have a good time and support ski racing and support the U.S. team. I’m excited that, on behalf of me, they’re getting into the whole sport.”
They came places as far-flung as Lake Tahoe, Jackson, Wyo., Alaska, Boston, said Chelsea Robinson, who is Sullivan’s sister and the group’s organizer.
Not only was it obvious Saturday that they have great enthusiasm for Marco, it was also evident that they know how to have fun.
“It’s definitely to support Marco, and we just have a great family, a lot of fun friends, and so it becomes a really fun time for all of us,” Robinson said. “But our No. 1 goal is support Marco. He’s a great guy and a great athlete.
As autograph-seeking fans mobbed her brother, Robinson said she was happy with Marco’s result Saturday.
“We’re definitely stoked for him,” Robinson said. “A top-15 finish is great.”
‘I’ll be back’
Patrik Jaerbyn, who lives in Edwards and races for Sweden, fell on the upper half of the course Saturday but was able to recover and finish the race.
The 40-year-old Jaerbyn has been training with the Americans this fall in Colorado. It was a thrill to come back to this challenging course that’s right in his backyard, he said.
“It is obviously cool because you know so many people, but it’s also a really cool hill,” Jaerbyn said. “It’s a challenging course. But, of course, it’s fun to have your family close by. Although there can be some distractions sometimes, but that’s the way it is.”
And will the 40-year-old veteran be back at Birds of Prey next year?
“I’ll be back, but I probably won’t be racing,” he said.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 970-748-2929 or email@example.com.