Love me a good night race…the energy is always incredible! I wish I could be in Madonna, but instead I sit in an equally captivating place as I write this: the 6th floor of Mosaic House in Prague, watching the sun set over the castle in the distance. I’m here for the holidays. Alta Badia was capped off by an incredible second run by all of the boys. They really put the hammer down, Tommy Ford skiing the best and most beautiful run Head Coach Sasha Rearick’s ever seen him ski, winning the second run by .80 seconds. Seriously. I don’t joke. Ted Ligety was almost looking back to his normal Shred self, finishing with the second fastest second run. In fact, the Americans saw some serious leaderboard occupation, with TFord holding down the fort for a long haul until Jit took over the reigns, and then Ted banged down the door and hung out right up to the end. That was rad.
Those Norge dudes. Seriously. A surprise double podium in the new parallel GS event?! WHAT’S UP WITH THAT?! They’re too hot (HOT DAMN!) Call the Police and a fireman! They’re too hot (hot damn) Make a dragon wanna retire man…(Come on, now you want to listen to it…Uptown Funk. Just do it.).
The Scoop: I caught up with the #USTechNerdsthe other day at lunch before I jetted from Italy to the Czech Republic. They’re all stoked. And guess what?! Mark Engel (who narrowly missed the flip in last weekend’s Val d’Isere slalom) is ULTRA-stoked because he is fresh off of a Europa Cup victory on the Italian pizza tour stop Kronplatz – Plan de Corones. He beat Matthias Hargin. SICK. Michael Ankeny was skiing fast there too. Yeehaw, let’s go, boys…lay down the hammer and GO GO GO!
Madonna di Campiglio – Men’s Night Slalom
- Start time: 1st run - 17:45 CET, 2nd run – 20:45 CET
- U.S. Starters: David Chodounsky (20), Ted Ligety (31), Michael Ankeny (35), Tim Kelley (41), Hig Roberts (46), Robby Kelley (47), and Mark Engel (57).
- David “Daver” Chodounsky is fresh off some great skiing, in both slalom and giant slalom (his top split had him sitting in sixth the other day before he walked out of his ski in GS at Alta Badia). Last weekend he had a career-best 4th place finish at Val d’Isere in slalom. Of the two times he’s skied at Madonna (2012, 2014), he has not finished the first run. Can he put two solid runs together tonight under the lights?
- Ted Ligety did not finish here last year, but he has had two top 10 finishes on this track in the past (6th in 2005 and 9th in 2012). He was back in the points, finishing 20th in Val d’Isere last weekend, which he was happy about. Look for him to make the flip again today, and score some World Cup points.
- The Kelley brothers (aka “bash brothers”…Mighty Ducks, love that film) are back at it together here at Madonna. Val d’Isere was the first World Cup that had seen these two together on the same piste. Ski fast, brothers! Mark Engel, Michael Ankeny, (Engel, Ankeny and Robby Kelley all finished in the top 10 at the recent Obereggen Europa Cup) and that rookie Hig Roberts…they’re pysched to be skiing the classic and looking to make the flip. Cheer loud for them.
Who’s in the hunt?
Felix Neureuther (2) won here last year. But Marcel Hirscher (3), folks, dang…that brother is simply EN FUEGO. Marcel Hirscher has won 16 World Cup Slalom races, ranking him equal third with Luxembourg’s Marc Girardelli on the all-time list. Only Sweden’s Ingemak Stenmark and the Italian Stallion Alberto Tomba (35) have won more. Hirscher won the night slalom in 2012. The young, though hard-charging and confident Henrik Kristoffersen (4) won the first Slalom of the season in Val d’Isère and has now won four Slalom World Cup races. I’m not a betting gal tonight, but for some reason, I’m feeling a Norwegian victory in the air tonight. Might be all of those recent Norwegian good vibes from their podium sweep in Val Gardena to their surprise double podium in last night’s parallel GS event at Alta Badia. Italy is being nice to them, and I’m starting to wonder if Santa really is Norwegian. Christmas is coming…does he have a “W” in his sack for the #AttackingVikings?! Only time will tell…
…and what the heck?! Because Italy has been so good to the Norge crew, I say keep an eye on Sebastian Foss-Solevaag (bib 15) too.
Others to watch:
- The Italian men, on home snow and hot, hot, hot: Stefano Gross (5), Giuliano Razzoli (10), and don’t count out that veteran Patrick Thaler (17).
- The Swedes: the uncharacteristically-fiery-for-a-Scando Mattias Hargin is coming in hot at lucky number 7, and Andre Myhrer (8).
- Calm, cool, collected Russian Alexander Khoroshilov (6).
TV and Live Streaming Schedule (times EST):
Tuesday, Dec. 22
11:30 a.m. - Men's SL1, Madonna - NBC Live Extra - LIVE STREAM
2:30 p.m. - Men's SL2, Madonna - NBC Live Extra - LIVE STREAM
8:00 p.m. - Men's night slalom, Madonna - Universal HD
Here’s my Christmas gift to you. Or, actually Tommy Ford’s and Bryce Bennett’s Christmas gift to you: the gift of beautiful, perfect, smooth, surprising skiing. The best gift one can give. Other than an endless stash of powder (speaking of…hey Utah, send some over to Euroland please. Thanks.) Enjoy.
Ski in Peace,