BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — It wasn’t so much snowfall as it was moisture in the air condensing on contact with the cold. The sun, though visible, could barely penetrate the haze. There was no contrast to the visibility. It was reindeer weather and Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal took full advantage.
“You had to stay on it,” the Norwegian said, of his approach to the hybrid Beaver Creek course, and it was certainly a theory he adhered to, milking every section of the dual course, finding speed on a day when the skis felt like they were moving through glue. He continued to pursue the line, fighting for each release point, squeezing out a .17 of a second margin over Austrian Hannes Reichelt. Italian Peter Fill took third, two tenths out.
Svindal said his strategy was to not worry about skiing pretty or to be too concerned about the line. “You can’t look too closely at the line, you just have to get after it. I had a good feeling at the top. The middle was so-so, and at the end I had a good plan. When I landed Golden Eagle I stayed in my bullet all the way down. I spent a lot of time watching video. I was definitely happy to see the green light when I finished.”
While he said the hybrid course was “not easy,” and had plenty of challenge, it was unfair comparing it to the regular Beaver Creek course. “Birds of Prey is one of the best courses in the world. It’s faster and it flows better. On the Raptor your attitude is almost more important than the skiing.”
Reichelt said his run was so much better than he experienced a week previous at Lake Louise where he finished 25th. “I did some good work in the last few days,” he said, saying that his ski setup was unchanged. Though he certainly wanted to win, he conceded, “There is no shame in being second to Aksel. There is not much difference between s––– races and good races. That’s the beauty of racing.”
The Americans were on the wrong side of that narrow difference. Bode Miller took a daring new line and did produce his best result of the season, but it was 13th, a full second off the pace.
“It was super slow if you got outside the track,” he said, which had, frankly, been part of the strategy. “I felt I skied pretty well,” he added. Miller said he took a high line in the traverse and it felt great. “I was psyched.” But the good feeling dissolved quickly when he essentially got lost on a course with no established landmarks.
“The course is pretty basic, not that challenging really, but it was a mystery. I didn’t know what to do,” he said while greeting reporters with his daughter Dacey in his arms.
Canadian Manuel Osborne-Paradis came agonizingly close to his first World Cup podium in three years when he finished just four-hundredths of a second behind Fill.
“Another fourth! It’s just a matter of time before I get a podium,” said Osborne-Paradis. “I’m skiing better and I’m skiing faster and more confidently. It’s really just about putting it all together. My run was pretty clean. I made a mistake on the pitch and came out a little low and that probably cost me the race, but that’s racing.”
Osborne-Paradis’ teammate Jan Hudec followed up his 10th-place finish in the Lake Louise super G with 7th in Beaver Creek.
“I’m stoked to have another top 10,” said Hudec. “Manny and I both owe a big thank you to our serviceman, who absolutely nailed the wax and did a great job on the skis,” adding, “I knew Manny had killed it when I went up for my run and that gave me a huge boost of confidence.”
“It was a good day,” said Martin Rufener, head coach of the Canadian men’s alpine team. “Manny was so close to the podium. It’s a really technical downhill so it was a nice result for him. Erik (Guay) has still not had many training days on the speed side but he was skiing well. To have two in the top seven and to just miss the podium – we’re very happy.”
Two of the top U.S. contenders, Steven Nyman and Travis Ganong, had early draw numbers with Ganong starting fourth and Nyman third. Neither had much of a shot as the course sped up as the condensing fresh snow was skied off.
Nyman said, “It felt like the skis were just pulling. Skiing later might have been better, that’s all I’m saying.”
Ganong, who got 15th place, said: “It was a little bumpier than yesterday which was to be expected. It was actually nice on the second run, we can take tighter lines and push it in places, and that’s what I did today. I stuck to my plan and it really worked. I just got pushed low in one tiny section and it cost me a little bit. Overall, I’m pretty happy with my skiing.”
“Every once in a while, things get faster later or it’s faster earlier, but I like going early every time. I don’t care. I’d rather go early and get it out of the way, stick to my game plan, and not look at other people’s skiing, just focus on my run.”
Check out our photo galley from the race here.
Men’s World Cup downhill, Beaver Creek, Colo., Dec. 6, 2013
Equipment – Skier, skis/boots/bindings
2 Reichelt, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
3 Fill, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
4 Osborne-Paradis, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
5 Kueng, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
7 Hudec, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
8 Heel, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
10 Franz, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
Men’s World Cup downhill, Beaver Creek, Colo., Dec. 6, 2013
It is the fifth of 34 races on the men’s 2013-14 World Cup schedule. … The second of nine scheduled downhills. … It is the 19th World Cup downhill held at Beaver Creek, the first and theoretically only one to be held on the Boptor hybrid course combining the men’s Birds of Prey and women’s Raptor courses.
It is the 23rd career World Cup win for Aksel Lund Svindal and his second of the season. … It is his fourth win at Beaver Creek and his second at Beaver Creek in downhill.
It is the 24th career World Cup podium for Hannes Reichelt… his eighth in downhill and his fourth at Beaver Creek, but first in downhill at the site.
It is the tenth career World Cup podium for Peter Fill, his first since 2009. … He had finished fourth at Beaver Creek on three previous occasions, including twice in 2006.
It is the best finish for Manuel Osborne-Paradis since Kvifjell of last season. … It was the best World Cup finish for Jan Hudec since Kvitfjell of last season. … It is the best finish for Bode Miller since Sochi of last season. … It is the best finish for Travis Ganong since Bormio of last season. … It is his best career World Cup finish at Beaver Creek. … It is the ninth best of 16 World Cup results at Beaver Creek for Erik Guay. … It is the best finish at Beaver Creek for Steven Nyman since 2008 when he finished seventh in downhill. … It is the eighth scoring finish at Beaver Creek for Marco Sullivan. … the fourth for Erik Fisher.
Aksel Lund Svindal takes over command of the World Cup Overall standings 300-160 for Marcel Hirscher (did not race). … Reichelt moves to third with 142pts. … Ted Ligety (42nd in race) is top American in fifth with 124pts. … Osborne-Paradis is top Canadian overall in 18th place with 75pts. … Svindal leads the downhill standings 1150-129 over Dominik Paris (ninth in race). … Klaus Kroell (25th in race) is third with 86pts. … Osborne-Paradis leads the North Americans in tenth with 97pts. … Miller leads the Americans in 17th with 40pts. Austria leads the mens Nations Cup 949-541 over France with Italy in third with 519pts. … The U.S. is sixth with 254pts and Canada seventh with 217pts.
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Total Time||FIS Points|
|1||22||421328||SVINDAL Aksel Lund||1982||NOR||1:44.50||0.00|
|49||49||194542||GIRAUD MOINE Valentin||1992||FRA||1:48.21||48.64|
|54||61||491151||DE LA CUESTA Paul||1988||SPA||1:48.70||55.06|
|Disqualified 1st run|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|76||30149||SIMARI BIRKNER Cristian Javier||1980||ARG|
|62||422139||KILDE Aleksander Aamodt||1992||NOR|