The Pumphouse claims numerous victims at Beaver Creek
Vail, CO Colorado
BEAVER CREEK, Colorado “A theme quickly developed Saturday at the Birds of Prey. Skiers who took The Pumphouse too fast almost inevitably missed the next gate and ended their day early.
It almost appeared as if the big screen kept showing the same replay, but unfortunately for those skiers, that wasn’t the case. Fifteen competitors didn’t finish the race, most of those having fallen victim to The Pumphouse.
The best strategy of the day came from the leaders, naturally. Eventual winner Askel Lund Svindal slowed down slightly around The Pumphouse and again before the Golden Eagle Jump.
American Ted Ligety ” a superb technical skier ” took a similar path to his seventh-place finish.
After the race, there were grumbles in the finish area of the course setting up more like a downhill because the lower portions of the course straightened out enough for skiers to pick up a lot of speed. Two-time defending Birds of Prey super-G champion, Hannes Reichelt, was one of the dissenting voices.
“It became so fast, like a downhill,” Reichelt said. “That’s not normal for a super-G. It’s really tough. I think you have to be a downhiller to be really fast on this course.”
American Steven Nyman disagreed saying the course set up exactly like a super-G.
“The course was awesome,” Nyman said. “There were some really swingy, technical parts, and some big finger turns. It required you to change your tempo and change your pace, and really be on top of what’s going on.”
Reichelt finishes 10th
For the second day in a row, a defending Birds of Prey champion raced well, but not good enough to finish on the podium.
Reichelt came into the week having won the last two super-G races at Beaver Creek (in 2005 and 2007) and hoped to claim the title again. Early in his run, his chances of a three-peat virtually ended.
“I crashed at gate No. 3 so bad,” Reichelt said. “That was a little bit confusing for the next turn. I lost too much (time) on those turns.”
Even after bashing into a gate, Reichelt managed to finish in 10th place.
With The Pumphouse playing tricks on a number of racers, the skiers still waiting to go took advantage of the technology available. Remember, World Cup skiing is a team sport. Many skiers radioed up to the top with information about the course to their countrymen.
“They had a TV at the top, so luckily I was able to see a couple of guys (ski),” Ligety said. “Then I heard from the coaches and Marco (Sullivan), as well. They had a good perspective. I knew exactly what I needed to do.”
Ligety’s strong finish may have helped the remaining American skiers. After finishing his run, Ligety shared advice with Scott Macartney (24th) and T.J. Lanning (26th).
“Ted called up and gave a pretty good report, I thought,” Macartney said. “He did really well. He charged it. He pretty much said, you got to take to it and get after it. You have to be super-aggressive. That’s what the course demanded.”
Sports Writer Ian Smith can be reached at 970-748-2935 or email@example.com.