It’s always a special time of year when the men’s World Cup tour rolls into the Italian Dolomites. One of the most dramatic mountain ranges in the world, breathtaking views and spectacular racing action are to be expected down the legendary Saslong slope in Val Gardena.
For Friday’s super-G, however, heavy morning snow and fog had racers and fans worried. Although the snow let off as the morning progressed and was a non-factor by the time racing kicked off just past noon local time, intermittent fog and flat light played tricks on the field throughout the race.
As always in Val Gardena, terrain management through the Saslong’s countless rolls and undulations is essential in order to have a successful race run. Heavy flat light made navigating the labyrinth of terrain that much more difficult.
American veteran Steven Nyman, although on the start list for the super-G, elected not to race in favor of making his return from injury in Saturday’s downhill. Val Gardena is a special place for the big man as all three of his World Cup wins have been on the Saslong with the most recent coming in in 2014.
“It feels good to play under the Saslong again!” Nyman said via Instagram. “I’m happy to say I will be racing tomorrow in the downhill. I’m taking today’s super-G off to rest the knee and prepare for tomorrow. Best of luck to my teammates!”
After a lengthy fog delay midway through the top-30 skiers, the fog rolled back in to the middle Ciaslat section of the course and forced the abandonment of the race after bib 38 after it was clear the fog was not going to clear. Although over half of the field was not able to start, the results will stand.
It was Germany’s day with Josef Ferstl taking his maiden World Cup win and Germany’s first men’s super-G win since 1991 when Markus Wasmeier won in Lake Louise. Ferstl, wearing bib two, took full advantage of his early start number and masterfully navigated his way down the course. Ferstl also has winning in his blood as his father, Sepp, won the Kitzbuehel downhill back-to-back in 1978 and 1979.
“It’s unbelievable,” an ecstatic Ferstl said after the race. “It’s an amazing day for me and it’s my first time on the podium. A win is unbelievable. It was a great run but I was a little but lucky with the weather. After the 30 it was really, really tough for the other guys. After that I realized that it was a podium and maybe a win.”
Following Ferstl on the podium was the Austrian duo of Max Franz and Matthias Mayer who finished only 0.02 and 0.10 seconds back in second and third, respectively.
“I’m very happy with second place,” Franz said. “Difficult day with the weather changing but I’m happy. My feeling is really good and I had a really good training yesterday and I want to push a little bit more.”
The Americans were led by Travis Ganong in 17th place, followed closely by Thomas Biesemeyer in 18th and Andrew Weibrecht finishing in 28th. Unfortunately, the rest of the American contingent of Jared Goldberg, Ryan Cochran-Siegle, Bryce Bennett, and Wiley Maple were unable to start due to the fog and subsequent ending of the race.
For Ganong, who has admitted to struggling thus far in a season where the two-time World Cup winner hasn’t finished better than 16th, Friday’s race was just another stepping stone towards rebuilding his confidence and race-winning form we are so used to seeing out of the cool Californian.
“I haven’t had a lot of confidence, it’s been kind of a rough start to my season,” Ganong shared in the finish. “I’m just trying to build some confidence from race to race and find the speed and find the race gear. When it’s going well it’s super easy; when it’s not going well it’s really hard and you’re questioning everything and it’s hard to get it back. Ski racing is such a simple sport and the margins are so small … it’s hard to find that extra little time sometimes.”
Saturday is another opportunity for the American Downhillers to shine as some strong training results by Goldberg and Maple could indicate a turning point for the U.S. after a lackluster start to the downhill season in Lake Louise and Beaver Creek. Start time for Saturday’s downhill is set for 12:15pm CET.
Fans can stay up to date on World Cup by downloading the U.S. Ski Team – Ski Racing app for iOSand Android.
- Josef Ferstl (GER) – Head/Head/Head
- Max Franz (AUT) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Matthias Mayer (AUT) – Head/Head/Head
- Aleksander Aamodt Kilde (NOR) – Head/Head/Head
- Vincent Kriechmayr (AUT) – Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Andreas Sander (GER) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Adrien Theaux (FRA) – Head/Head/Head
- Peter Fill (ITA) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) – Head/Head/Head
- Beat Feuz (SUI) – Head/Head/Head
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points||WC Points|
|4||13||422139||KILDE Aleksander Aamodt||1992||NOR||1:35.50||+0.22||2.49||50.00|
|9||5||421328||SVINDAL Aksel Lund||1982||NOR||1:35.88||+0.60||6.80||29.00|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|29||422310||SEJERSTED Adrian Smiseth||1994||NOR|
|Did not start 1st run|
|57||110324||VON APPEN Henrik||1994||CHI|
|52||380292||ZRNCIC DIM Natko||1986||CRO|
|42||512031||BARANDUN Gian Luca||1994||SUI|