Sir Arnold Lunn is credited with creating alpine ski racing and Chamonix was where he did it. His dad, Henry, was enjoying competition on the slopes of Chamonix well before that.
    Chamonix is one of three sites — with St. Anton, Austria, and Garmisch, Germany — that have regularly hosted the Arlberg Kandahar, celebrating the 60th running this season. The first Roberts of Kandahar Challenge Cup, however, was actually contested in 1911. To this day, the pin emblazoned with AK is synonymous with ski racing celebrity. Since 2004 Chamonix has held annual races.
    The downhill course has not been run for a World Cup event that often — there are just nine in the record book — but is has plenty of lore to go with it. The course drops off the bottom of Mont Blanc, if you are on the French side, or Monte Bianco if on the Italian side.
    The course will be smooth and grippy according to U.S. coach Phil McNichol, and coming off the challenges of Kitzbühel he says he expects to see racers “putting the hammer down,” on the less threatening Verte track of Chamonix.
SIR ARNOLD LUNN is credited with creating alpine ski racing and Chamonix was where he did it. His dad, Henry, was enjoying competition on the slopes of Chamonix well before that.
    Chamonix is one of three sites — with St. Anton, Austria, and Garmisch, Germany — that have regularly hosted the Arlberg Kandahar, celebrating the 60th running this season. The first Roberts of Kandahar Challenge Cup, however, was actually contested in 1911. To this day, the pin emblazoned with AK is synonymous with ski racing celebrity. Since 2004 Chamonix has held annual races.
    The downhill course has not been run for a World Cup event that often — there are just nine in the record book — but is has plenty of lore to go with it. The course drops off the bottom of Mont Blanc, if you are on the French side, or Monte Bianco if on the Italian side. It is the highest mountain in the Alps, though exactly how high is hard to gauge as the peak is an ice field that varies in depth. In the category of useless information, Mont Blanc is the site of the highest out-houses in the world.
    The altitude has helped this season as there is abundant snow. The course will be smooth and grippy according to U.S. coach Phil McNichol, and coming off the challenges of Kitzbühel he says he expects to see racers “putting the hammer down,” on the less threatening Verte track of Chamonix.
    “It's not an easy course,” McNichol says. “It's more in the realm of Wengen or maybe the old course at Val d’Isere. It's pretty long and it's hard to remember everything. There aren't any super steep sections but it is filled with technical turns, pitch, side hills and bumps. It is a downhiller's course. There's something for everybody.”
    If there are any discerning features, it would be the jumps. The course brings racers through a pine forest over the Cassure and Goulet jumps, the latter launching racers 80 meters, according to first training run winner Didier Cuche.
    Johan Grugger won the last test, in 2005, ahead Kristian Ghedina and Michael Walchhofer with Mario Scheiber in fourth. Grugger is out for the season and Ghedina has retired. Stephan Eberharter won in 2004 with Lasse Kjus in second and Walchhofer third. With the first two retired, one would have to believe Walchhofer should be the favorite. No American has won a World Cup downhill at Chamonix, or even made the podium. Cindy Nelson got to fourth in 1975 and Daron Rahlves was fifth in 2005. Bode Miller was eighth in that race so he should be the brightest U.S. hope, but the track could offer up some surprises as it will test so many aspects of downhill competency.
    Chamonix will also host a super combined on Sunday, and in that event Miller has succeeded, winning in 2004. Benjamin Raich won the combined at Chamonix in 2006 ahead of Rainer Schoenfelder and Miller.

Women return to tech racing
The women will contest a slalom and giant slalom at Ofterschwang, Germany, a soothing collection of Bavarian mountain villages and a relative newcomer to the World Cup schedule.
    World Cup GS standings leader Denise Karbon, winner of four of the five GS races run this season, broke a bone in her hand training on Wednesday and is uncertain of her status for the weekend slate. She said she will not race Sunday’s slalom.
    Janica Kostelic iced her first World Cup title with a slalom win at Ofterschwang back in 2001, and there were four winners in three races two seasons ago when Anja Paerson and Maria Jose Rienda Contreras tied for one of the two GS wins. Rienda Contreras is set to return from injury this season after getting two of her six career wins at Ofterschwang in 2006. She missed all of last season.  

Article Tags: Alpine

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

comments

-
UP NEXT
Jan 25 2008
Masters Moments: Reports from across the country
LAST UP
Jan 24 2008
Europa Cup: Kiley Staples takes fifth in super combi
Related Articles