Weather, wind impact super-G course on Tuesday
BEAVER CREEK — If you asked a racer what the conditions were like on Tuesday’s women’s super-G course, then the answer would depend on whom you asked.
The day’s race was unquestionably altered by weather, with variable conditions such as visibility and gusts of wind costing precious fractions of seconds — a margin often big enough to cost racers a number of spots. Whether you come out on top or whether the conditions get the best of you, sometimes is a matter of luck — if the hundredths are on your side, as several racers said.
A windy start
Tuesday’s super-G race was run under partly cloudy skies on a shortened course thanks to high winds. A few gates were cut off the top of the course to make the race safe, but many racers still reported unpleasant headwinds through the first few gates.
Lindsey Vonn all but attributed the outcome of her race to the wind, saying she fought strong headwinds on her first few gates. The wind put her behind, and despite skiing strong and clean the rest of the course, the time was lost.
“I just wish the weather was a little bit better. I was definitely a bit disappointed by the wind at the top part,” she said. “I was already 3-tenths out in the first 20 seconds. It’s pretty hard to come back from that.”
Acknowledging that variable weather often plays a part in any race, she said she hoped for a more “fair” race as far as conditions go for Friday’s downhill.
“When you have a big event, sometimes the weather doesn’t go your way, and you are still happy with a medal,” she said shrugging. “There is no such thing as a completely fair race. I knew that just standing at the starting gate. I’m hoping Friday will bring good weather for a fair race and a chance to get another medal.”
Switzerland’s Lara Gut, who was a favorite for the super-G, echoed the sentiment. Gut was disappointed that she failed to make the podium, and said that factors like wind can completely ruin a race.
“This was a little bit disappointing, starting a World Championships with so much wind. Today, the wind wasn’t necessarily the problem for me, but I have teammates like Fabienne (Suter) who had no chance, they lost a second just because of the wind. It’s not fair for everyone. There are other girls who could be (in the top 10) and they won’t be in the top 30 just because of the weather.”
Rolling with the conditions
Other racers on Tuesday said they were able to deal despite the wind and visibility.
Tina Maze, of Slovenia, who raced to second place right after Vonn’s run, said the wind didn’t phase her.
“It was bad — there was a lot of wind on the first three gates, but that’s the way it was. When you don’t see much of the floor, it’s hard to ski this kind of course,” she said, referring to the swirling snow created by the gusts. “But when you get wind, you say, ‘OK.’ You just go out and do your best. I actually like the wind, even though it makes your time slower. When I’m in my helmet and I’m warm, I’m not afraid of it. I don’t think about it that much.”
Sometimes the wind isn’t as much of a physical factor as a mental one.
“It’s more that everything just gets rushed when there’s wind,” said American Julia Mancuso. “I didn’t think it affects times as much, but it does affect concentration a little bit.”
American Laurenne Ross summed up the unpredictability of the sport:“The wind absolutely played a part today. And the sun was coming in and out — for some people there was sun, for some people there was no sun. It’s just ski racing.”
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.