The primer for today’s downhill at Beaver Creek |

The primer for today’s downhill at Beaver Creek

Skier Access

Spectators will be able to ski Red Tail Trail starting today and Birds of Prey Express (Chair 9) will also be open to guests. This means that there will be additional terrain, and fans will be able to ski to the finish venue to the races.

BEAVER CREEK — It’s go time, people.

Downhill time at Birds of Prey. The start time is 10:45 a.m. Best be in your seats and ready to go.

So that you can impress your fellow spectators, the course record is 1 minute, 39.59 seconds by Daron Rahlves back in 2003. Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud won training on Wednesday and Thursday with times of 1:44.04 and 1:42.87, so our bet is the winning time will be some around 1:40 or 1:41, give or take a few hundredths.

Here’s more than you ever wanted to know about the today’s race.

Weather, Format, Stats

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Format: Very simple. One run only — fastest guy down the hill without getting killed wins.

Exciting stats on Birds of Prey racecourse: The start is at 11,424 feet and drops 2,490 feet to the finish area at Redtail at 8,954 feet. The maximum drop on the course is 33 degrees on Talon Turn.

Weather: says a high of 43 in Avon, which means mid-30s at Redtail. Rather balmy all things considered. Wind at 5-10 mph, but your mileage may vary up top on the course.

Winners, Rankings

Previous winners: Kristian Ghedina, Italy, 1997; Andreas Schifferer, Austria, 1997; Hermann Maier, Austria, 1999 Worlds, 1999 World Cup stop, 2000 and 2003; Stephan Eberharter, Austria, 2002; Daron Rahlves, USA, 2003 and 2005; Bode Miller, USA, 2004, 2006 and 2011; Michael Walchhofer, Austria, 2007; Aksel Lund Svindal, Norway, 2008 and 2013; Carlo Janka, Switzerland, 2009; Christof Innerhofer, Italy, 2012; Kjetil Jansrud, Norway, 2014; Patrick Kueng, Switzerland, 2015 World Championships.

2015 World Cup downhill rankings: 1. Jansrud, 605 points; 2. Hannes Reichelt, Austria, 511; 3. Guillermo Fayed, France, 389; T4. Matthias Mayer, Austria, and Dominik Paris, Italy, 386.

Top Americans

2015 top Americans: 6. Steven Nyman, 324; 11. Travis Ganong, 240; 19. Marco Sullivan, 153; 36. Jared Goldberg, 37.

Lake Louse, Alberta, downhill results: 1. Svindal; 2. Peter Fill, Italy; 3. Ganong; 4. Fayed; 5. Janka.

Other Americans at Lake Louise: T16. Nyman; T24. Andrew Weibrecht.

Americans running today: Bryce Bennett, Ganong, Nyman, Sullivan and Weibrecht,

Watch out for: The Flyway is the flat portion at the top of the course where those who tuck well can gain time, particularly if it’s a windy day. Rahlves became the first American to win here by doing so. Talon Turn is a sharp turn after The Brink, where the world falls away. Always watch Talon at Birds of Prey. Screech Owl Jump is always an amusing point in the course. And if that doesn’t get a racer or two, then there’s Golden Eagle. Just ask Svindal, who was victimized by that feature in 2007.

Favorites and Dark Horses

Favorites: Look to Norway. Svindal won both speed races up in Lake Louise last weekend, while Jansrud is the defending Birds of Prey champion and has been lights out in training.

Quiet favorites category: Fill and Fayed both are consistently high in World Cup points, were both in the top five in Lake Louise and have skied well this week.

Who Loves the course?

Guys who ski well here: Most people should be picking Reichelt in the super-G on Saturday, but the Austrian just loves this course. Janka is always a threat here after winning three races in one weekend at Beaver Creek in 2009.

American favorites: Ganong seems to be emerging as “America’s next great downhiller,” having recorded his first downhill win last season at Santa Caterina, Italy, He also took silver in the World Championships downhill in February. Nyman has three podiums at Birds of Prey, including third last December. He was also fourth at the World Championships.

Reporter Picks

The picks from our esteemed colleagues:

Shauna Farnell, general ski goddess reporter: Ganong.

Chris Freud, Vail Daily: Jansrud.

Pat Graham, AP Denver: Svinsrud … He’s hedging his bets on Norway in general.

Melanie Wong, Vail Daily: Jansrud.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, and @cfreud.

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