Training Day 2: Kjetil Jansrud back on top
Birds of prey 2015
Downhill, 10:45 a.m.
Super-G, 11 a.m.
Giant slalom, 9:45 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.
BEAVER CREEK — Feeling confident and skiing well, Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud cruised to the top of the scoreboard on Thursday’s second downhill training run at Birds of Prey.
That wouldn’t be too significant for a training day, where racers are often checking out the course or working out kinks, except that this is the second day in a row he’s finished first, and he won the Birds of Prey downhill last year.
“I’m skiing normal, not trying to do anything special. I can only speak for myself, but I didn’t do any big mistakes. I felt like skied OK and it looks to be fast. That always gives me confidence,” he said.
Like most other racers, he was pushing harder on the course than he did on Wednesday, finishing with a time of 1 minute 42.87 seconds. He was followed by Italy’s Peter Fill at 1:43:02 in second, and Austria’s Hannes Reichelt at 1:32:38 in third.
“I go with what I have. I think most people do that the last training run,” said Jansrud. “For me, it’s way better to attack it and try to improve from that position than just taking it easy, because you really never know what’s going to hit you on race day. I’d rather go fast every day and try to work from there.”
Jansrud’s teammate Aksel Lund Svindal was also among the fastest men of the day, coming in fourth with a time of 1:43:63.
“I wasn’t that clean. I have a little work to do on my part. I’m keeping some reserves for sure, but (finishing behind the leader by) seven tenths is definitely a bigger margin than I’m hoping for,” he said.
Svindal made it clear that he thinks Jansrud is the man to watch on race day.
“Kjetil obviously had a good run. He was pushing hard and not making that many mistakes. He’s the biggest favorite for (race day) and I hope that I can try and steal that away from him,” said Svindal.
American downhiller Travis Ganong was also looking fast on Thursday, coming in sixth with a time of 1:44:11. Teammate Steven Nyman wasn’t far behind in ninth. Both men were skiing solidly and finding speed on the two training days.
“I was looking for speed today, pushing the line and feeling confident on the jumps,” said Ganong. “It wasn’t the perfect run. There were some mistakes. Today on Talon Turn, I actually went down on my side and punched the ground for a second. (He recently had surgery on his thumb.) I was testing my thumb. It was kind of scary.”
Ganong has candidly said he thinks he has a good chance to podium on the Beaver Creek downhill, adding that he thinks it will take an aggressive, near perfect run to win on Friday.
“It’s really hard to not have mistakes on a hill like this, when everyone is pushing so hard. The hill is just so perfect, so it’s an arena for everyone to just push it and send it as hard as they can, and try for things they wouldn’t normally try because it’s such a perfect course,” said Ganong.
Who’s the favorite?
With a number of known speedsters skiing well this week, there are a number of contenders for Friday’s downhill race.
“Everybody’s skiing really well. We’ll just have to look at the splits and analyze who’s winning each section, and hope to try and link it together,” said Ganong.
Reichelt is looking for a downhill podium, but named Jansrud, Guillermo Fayed, of France, Peter Fill, of Italy, and Svindal as others to watch.
“I think it be very close,” he said.
Jansrud warned that Fill, who was second on Thursday and fourth of Wednesday, is a real contender.
“He showed he could be fast in races in Lake Louise, (Alberta), and in training,” he said. “In the pool for (Friday) is going to be Aksel, for sure. You’re going to have Ganong in there, and Fill and Fayed. They’re going to be fast. There are five or six guys who can win. Hopefully for the Norwegians, there’s a good chance it could be one of us.”
Assistant Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 or at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @mwongvail.