U.S. men’s team healthy, confident
Vail, CO Colorado
BEAVER CREEK – With little injuries plaguing the men’s U.S. Ski Team this year, members are feeling strong heading into the Birds of Prey World Cup races this weekend and they hope the momentum continues to build.
Wednesday was the first day of training at the Birds of Prey race course for this weekend’s World Cup races in Beaver Creek, and the American men showed signs of confidence and optimism.
U.S. Ski Team member Marco Sullivan said there were five guys in the top 30 in super-G at Lake Louise, Alberta, last week – something he can’t remember happening once last season.
“We’re starting out strong and everyone’s excited to be here racing at home,” Sullivan said. “So that’s always an extra edge, so we’re just going to try to throw down in front of the home crowd.”
The Americans didn’t do so well at last year’s Birds of Prey super-G. Steven Nyman, who is injured this season, was the top American finisher with 25th place at last year’s super G as several of his teammates all skied off course in the same exact place and did not finish.
American Ted Ligety, who won the giant slalom at last year’s Birds of Prey, said having the Copper Mountain training facility has been a big help for the team. The facility adds to the confidence so many on the team feel right now, he said.
“The team’s feeling really good right now, especially having that Copper situation where we can train there – I think that’s given us a big boost,” Ligety said.
Ligety is looking forward to additional races at Beaver Creek next week after Wednesday’s International Ski Federation announcement that Val D’Isere, France, wouldn’t be able to host its World Cup races and that Beaver Creek would be the replacement venue.
“This hill here is awesome,” Ligety said. “To be able to race here again on it next week is going to be really fun. It’s always nice to have more races here and it’s definitely nice not to have to move and go straight over to France. It’s nice to be able to stay here an extra couple of days and get some more racing in here.”
American Travis Ganong said he hopes to keep building confidence throughout the season and continue to make the top 30 in races. He feels like he and the rest of the team are in a good position to do that, too.
“This year’s going really well, everyone’s really fired up and healthy,” Ganong said. “We’re definitely in a position where we want to push each other and just kind of make a statement. Last year we all had injuries, and by the end (of the season) there weren’t many of us racing, so hopefully we can stay healthy and keep pushing each other and make some good runs.”
American star Bode Miller, who had the best training run Wednesday with a fourth place finish, said the U.S. Ski Team’s problems are more likely to come from the mental side of the sport.
“It’s not the ability that’s lacking. We’ve skied with the best teams out there,” Miller said. “We’re competitive with any of them, so it’s just a matter of if the guys can get it through their heads to race that way and then perform on race day.”
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or email@example.com.