Time to race: The super-G at Beaver Creek
BEAVER CREEK – Could we please race?
Come on, three days of training and then no downhill Friday because of high wind. (Totally understandable, but frustrating.) Let’s go.
First off, let’s just say that Switzerland’s Carlo Janka did not win the super-G here last year. What a bum. Of course, there was no super-G, but in honor of the recently- and dearly-departed Leslie Nielsen, that’s not important right now. (Last year’s slate was super-combined, downhill and giant slalom).
Super-G has a history of some surprise winners here. From 2003-05, the race was the province of first-time winners – Bjarne Solbakken, Stefan Goergl and Hannes Reichelt.
Big names also have also added to their legend. Hermann Maier has won three times here in the discipline including a tie with Lasse Kjus in Vail ’99. (That still boggles the mind. By the way today’s trivia question is “Those two tied. Who finished in third just 0.01 seconds off the pace?” Answer below.)
Some guy named Didier Cuche won in 2002. We think he’s still racing, and Aksel Lund Svindal won in 2008 as part of back-to-back wins that year after his big crash here in 2007.
Facts, figures and picks follow:
Weather: Weather.com says 34 degrees with a “few” snow showers. We emphasize a few. That should be high 20s up at Red Tail.
Birds of Prey super-G champs: Maier (1997, 1998); Maier and Lasse Kjus (tie, 1999 Worlds); Fredrik Nyberg (2000), Didier Cuche (2002), Bjarne Solbakken (2003), Stefan Goergl (2004) and Hannes Reichelt (2005, 2007). Aksel Lund Svindal (2008).
Super-G stats: As opposed the downhill, the racers start lower on the mountain just after The Brink at 10,948 feet. It drops 2,004 feet to Red Tail. The course is 6,165 feet long.
Intervals: Pumphouse, Golden Eagle and The Abyss.
Look out in the super-G: First, look above with the hope the wind has died down. Screech Owl is always trouble. We talked about this in Friday’s paper, but we’ll say it again because we didn’t see racing – watch how racers come of the Golden Eagle-Abyss combo and into Harrier.
Americans (bib number): Bode Miller (15), Marco Sullivan (26), Andrew Weibrecht (27), Ted Ligety (30), Travis Ganong (41), Chris Frank (55), Steve Nyman (57), Erik Fisher (62) and Tommy Ford (67) .
Favorites: The Swiss are pretty loaded here. Tobias Gruenenfelder (18) won last week in Lake Louise, Alberta, that Janka (16) guy was second and Cuche (19) fifth. Canada’s Erik Guay (21), Austria’s Michael Walchhofer (17) and Svindal (22) went 1-2-3 in the points in super-G last year. Reichelt (14), Benni Raich (20), and Mario Scheiber (13) give the Austrians plenty of depth.
Dark horses: It’s weird to put Miller (15) in this category because he always seem to be a favorite at Birds of Prey. Ligety (30) has improved in super-G. Sweden’s Patrik Jaerbyn (28) ran well up at Lake Louise, and a win would put just about any other story line to shame. Watch out for Canada’s Robbie Dixon in the No. 1 hole.
Trivia answer: Austria’s Hans Knauss.
Staff picks (please no wagering):
Chris Freud: Svindal makes it a repeat over the course of three years.
Lauren Glendenning: She’s going with the “War Horse” or “The Wombat” – Weibrecht.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.
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