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The White Circus

World Cup Notes 22.12.15 | The Monday Night Lights Edition

Megan Harrod

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,

Megan

World Cup Notes 20.12.15 | No time like Mr. GS time...

Megan Harrod

Two words: BRYCE BENNETT. Oh. My. God. RIGHT?! Sorry, but can I get a HELL YEAH?!. I speak for the rest of the team when I say, that made our weekend in Val Gardena. No one expected it. Not even the big man himself. That moment when Bryce came through the finish line and looked at the timer in disbelief is the reason I love this sport so passionately. Just incredible skiing. Smooth like butter the whole way down. Aerodynamic. Pretty impressive for a guy with a 6’7” frame. He’s stoked to get the #AmericanDownhiller vest for the week. By the way, just watched the video again and cried. SO cool.

I wrote a What Makes a Champion piece on Bryce back in October that I think is more valid now than ever. Bryce spoke with depth about what he felt encapsulates a champion: “I feel my journey is a bit different than most: I'm not in this sport with the end goal to win World Cup medals or globes or Olympic medals. I'm in this sport because it's incredibly challenging with numerous variables to master, with little to no support from others to help you put down fast skiing,” Bennett notes. “No one truly understands every aspect of this sport. That's what drives me—to understand the ins and outs through self mastery and trial and error, and one day inspire kids to go after fulfillment and passion in their work, instead of just doing whatever it takes to get to the top.”

Yesterday in Val d’Isere, Laurenne Ross led the charge of four women into the top 20, with 10th place followed by Alice McKennis in 12th, Stacey Cook in 16th and Jackie Wiles in 17th. Vonn, the current overall World Cup leader, was .13 faster than Switzerland’s Lara Gut at the first split time when she hit a bump midway down the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup downhill course and briefly became airborne. She eventually landed and skied safely off the course for a DNF. That ended her bid for a record-extending 72nd World Cup win and record-tying 36th downhill victory.

The Scoop: Onward and upward…like, literally, over the Dolomites to Alta Badia for a giant slalom Sunday where Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) has won twice, the last time in 2012.
Course Report from Sasha Rearick: Snow on the top here first run is pretty good. There are a couple turns that will chunk out a little bit. But once you get around the second bend, the snow is perfect. Super-easy to ski. Guys are going to have to hammer it. New challenge this year are two rolls they’ve built in towards the bottom for the Parallel GS tomorrow. They’re actual jumps, we don’t typically have jumps in the GS but here we do. It’ll be challenging, because their legs are going to be hurting and they’re going to be exhausted when they reach this section. They need to ski committed over the jumps/rolls and have direction into the bottom section of the course.

Alta Badia – Men’s GS

  • Start time: 1st run – 9:30am CET, 2nd run 12:30pm CET
  • U.S. Starters: Ted Ligety (4), Tim Jitloff (9), Tommy Ford (31), and David Chodounsky (50).
  • Ted Ligety has finished on the podium in only one of his last seven GS races. He won in Sölden on 25 October. Ask him about last Saturday at Val d’Isere and he’ll tell you it never happened, “I only skied a slalom here at Val d’Isere,” he’ll say. He and the entire team are moving forward from last weekend’s frustrating performance and he and the team have had great training this weekend at the quaint South Tyrolean village called Pfelders.
  • Of the 15 times Ligety has raced on this track, he's won twice (2010, 2012), podiumed six times, been in the top ten 12 times, 12th one time, and DNFd/DNQ twice. Safe to say, he’s had some great success and consistency on this track. As a reminder, Ligety has won 24 GS World Cup races, outright second most among men only trailing record holder Ingemar Stenmark who won almost double the amount of races (46). Can “Mr. GS” conquer Gran Risa and once again live up to the title?! Let us see…
  • Jitloff’s best finish on this track was two years ago with a 5th (which matches his career best World Cup finish with a 5th in Sestriere in 2009). He knows he can podium. He can ski with these guys. He’s so close. For him, it’s all about the brain in the right place.
  • It’s been a while since TFord has finished on the Gran Risa slope. In fact, of the four years he’s skied it (2009-12), the only finish he has in 2009 with a 24th place finish. Turn it up and turn it on, buddy – you got this!
  • Daver is relatively new to the GS discipline, but he has skied here before. He DNFd during the first run.  But he had a solid 16th place finish at Birds of Prey this season, followed by some good skiing last weekend in Val d’Isere. He’s still riding high on that 4th place Val d’Isere slalom finish, so he’ll look to bring that momentum into today.

Who’s in the hunt? You all know the answer. It’s Austria’s Marcel Hirscher (bib 5). The dude is seemingly unstoppable. Hirscher has won the last two GS World Cup races as well as the last two GS races in Alta Badia. He’s in the hunt for hat-tricks all around tomorrow. He could be the first male skier to win Alta Badia three times in a row. Hirscher is the only ski racer to have finished on the podium in all three GS races this season. He won in Beaver Creek and Vald'Isère and finished third in Sölden.

Here’s kind of a cool stat: Ligety (16 wins) and Hirscher (14) have won 30 of the last 36 Giant Slalom World Cup events. Italy’s Massimiliano Blardone (2 – bib 56), France’s Alexis Pinturault (2 – bib 6), Deutschland's Felix Neureuther (1 – bib 3) and Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen (1 – bib 7) were the other winners in this run. This run of 36 GS races started with the season opener in Sölden in October 2011. Seriously?! Watch also these guys: Thomas Fanara (2), Victor Muffat-Jeandet (1) and Roberto Nani (11).

Courchevel – Women’s GS

  • Start time: 1st run – 10:30 CET, 2nd run 13:30 CET
  • It’s a balmy 6 degrees celsius over at Courchevel, but I just caught up with Head Coach Paul Kristofic and he said they’ve done an incredible job prepping the track there.  
  • U.S. Starters: Lindsey Vonn (10), Megan McJames (46), and Stacey Cook (64).
  • Vonn had a big GS win in Åre – her first GS win since Maribor in 2013. In a watered down women’s technical field (Sara Hector and Mikaela Shiffrin were both injured in Are and now on the sidelines), LV has even greater of a chance to throw down this season in GS. She’ll do it today too. She’s a bit sore from yesterday’s recovery, but she’s skiing today and she’s ready to go.
  • Yes, that is Stacey Cook’s name. You read that correctly. Stacey hasn’t skied a World Cup GS since St. Moritz on December 12, 2010, where she didn’t qualify for a second run. Of her last 20 World Cup GS starts, she’s had two finishes – a 15th in Hafjell Norway in 2006 and a 28th in Spindleruv Mlyn, CZ in 2008. She’s a speed specialist, so this should be interesting. And fun. She’s running dead last, but she’s all fired up today. She’ll be having fun.

Who’s in the hunt? Federica Brignone (6) won the Giant Slalom season opener in Sölden in October. She became the first Italian to win a ladies’ GS World Cup event since Denise Karbon in January 2008. Brignone can become the first woman from Italy to record multiple GS race wins in a single World Cup season since Karbon in 2007/08 (five wins). She’s an amazing skier and she’s fun to watch. Eva-Maria Brem (7) is wearing lucky number 7 today and she’s finished second place in the last two GS World Cups (Aspen and Åre). Keep an eye out today for Tessa Worley (1), on home snow! Worley finished in the top-5 in all three GS races this season.

TV and Live Streaming Schedule (times EST):
Sunday, Dec. 20
3:30 a.m. - Men's GS1, Alta Badia - NBC Live Extra - LIVE STREAM
4:30 a.m. - Women's GS1, Courchevel- NBC Live Extra - LIVE STREAM
6:30 a.m. - Men's GS2, Alta Badia - NBC Live Extra - LIVE STREAM
7:30 a.m. - Women's GS2, Courchevel- NBC Live Extra - LIVE STREAM
2:00 p.m. - Men's GS, Alta Badia, Universal HD
3:30 p.m. - Women's GS, Courchevel, Universal HD

*Follow the action from Alta Badia on Snapchat (usskiteam).*

FYI: My family is in Europe and this afternoon I’ll be traveling from Alta Badia to Prague…as such, you’ll likely not hear from my for with World Cup Notes for Monday afternoon’s Parallel Giant Slalom event. All I can say is that if Timmy Jit’s head’s in the right place, this event on this track is a perfect event for Jit to crush. Keep an eye out for him!

Ski in Peace,

Megan

World Cup Notes 19.12.15 | It's Downhill Day, baby!

Megan Harrod

First thing’s first…let’s recap yesterday, ladies and gentleman:

One hundredth. That’s all that separated Lara Gut and Lindsey Vonn yesterday. This is ski racing at its finest. A race against the clock. What a great day for Lindsey though. She even enjoyed herself a champagne fight with circuit buddy, Austria’s Michaela Kirchgasser (3rd place), post-race White Circus-style. Yes.

And then there was that Andrew “Warhorse” Weibrecht. His previous best finish on this super G track was a 15th in 2009. He told me yesterday after inspection that the course was a downhiller’s set. Straight. They took out a lot of the terrain. He wasn’t too stoked about it. Funny, seeing as though he posted another great result – among his best in his career, continuing his speed dominance this season. 5th place. Funny, seeing as though he was 1.01 out at the top split when he had way too much direction…but he crushed the bottom and gained a ton of time back. No one could catch those Norwegians yesterday though. What a day for them!

The winning ways of Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal have continued as the Attacking Viking captured the Val Gardena super G for the fourth time in his career and fourth victory this season. Following Svindal in second and third, respectively, were two of his countrymen, Kjetil Jansrud and Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, marking the third ever Norwegian World Cup podium sweep and first ever in super G. Will it be so again today?! I feel American Downhiller domination in the air today. Just sayin’…when you feel it, you can feel it.

The Scoop: The guys have skied this track this week and figured it out. They’re feeling good this morning. Spirits are bright. Smiles all ‘round. I sat next to Steven Nyman at breakfast and he’s feeling relaxed. Good vibes here. Jared Goldberg and Travis Ganong just sat down with me. They awoke to some beautiful tunes played by men in lederhosen (see attached video from snapchat). Head Coach Alex Hoedlmoser told the guys last night at our team meeting, “Aerodymanics tomorrow. Look for it and execute. There’s plenty of room here if you make a small error. Don’t over-edge, just let ‘em fly. You have everything in you to win this.” ICYMO yesterday: here’s the preview for the weekend with more details on the speed series.

Val Gardena – Classic Saslong Downhill

  • Start time: 12:15 CET
  • U.S. Starters: Steven Nyman (11), Travis Ganong (lucky number 13), Marco Sullivan (29), Andrew Weibrecht (31), Jared Goldberg (37), Wiley Maple (49), and Bryce Bennett (57).
  • Steven Nyman has participated in 143 World Cup races across all disciplines. He has won three times, all coming in the Val Gardena Downhill (2006, 2012 and 2014), hat-trick-style. He drew bib 11 last night at the public draw. Assistant Coach Chris “Becko” Beckmann said 11 is his number and he sees it everywhere. That’slucky.
  • What does Nyman have to say about today’s race? "It’s usually a pretty close race. I set myself apart last year, but the only guy that kept up was Kjetil [Jansrud]. Right now we have Travis and Aksel [Lund Svindal] and Kjetil and myself, we’re kind of ahead of the game right now. But you have to risk everything, and you really have to throw down. With all this terrain, all the jumps and all of the blind rolls, you can really mess up and there’s usually some good crashes every year, and it’s a good show. I’ve crashed here more than I’ve won here because I always risk it. But I really enjoy the jumps, I really enjoy that movement; it’s something I’m really good at, so I feel comfortable here ever since I laid eyes on it.”
  • Travis Ganong, Marco Sullivan, Andrew Weibrecht, Jared Goldberg – they all stacked the top 20 the other day and know they can ski fast today. They WANT to ski fast today.
  • Wiley Maple had a crash yesterday, and is feeling a bit tight today, but he skied fast in the second training run the other day and knows he can today. Bryce Bennett too. Watch that big guy. He’ll be working on the aerodynamics today.

Who’s in the hunt? We’re on home soil in Italy, and Italian skiers have won the Val Gardena Downhill five times, of which the last was in December 2001, when Kristian Ghedina (who, coincidentally shared the same wax tech as Steven Nyman, Leo – the man!) shared the victory with Stephan Eberharter. Since then 12 Val Gardena Downhill World Cup events are held and only Dominik Paris (18) reached the podium for Italy, with his third place finish last year. I told Lars (the Norwegian trainer) that my fingers are getting tired of writing #AttackingVikings. It’s true. You may or may not know, we have a collaboration with the Norwegians where we train and collaborate on hill. In a sense, we feel like a team. Them building us up and us building them up. Pretty cool. But man, give us a break Norway! Aksel Lund-Svindal (21) has won both downhill races this season, winning in Lake Louse and Beaver Creek. The last man to win the first three downhill World Cup races of a season was Stephan Eberharter (Austria). He achieved this feat in 2002/2003. Svindal won both downhill races this season. Kjetil Jansrud (17) won the last downhill race of last season. Come on, let’s break this streak, boys, shall we?!

Val d’Isere – Downhill

  • Start time: 10:30 CET
  • U.S. Starters: Alice McKennis (3), Laurenne Ross (14), Stacey Cook (15), Lindsey Vonn (17), and Jackie Wiles (27).
  • Vonn is poised to equal Moser Pröll's downhill record. She has won 35 Downhill World Cup races and only trails Austria’s Annemarie Moser Pröll or most Downhill wins (36). The 36 wins by Moser Pröll are also the most by a woman in a single World Cup event. Vonn won the Downhill in Val d'Isère in December 2014 when she snagged Winnie and can win in back to back editions for the second time following her wins in December 2006 and December 2010. Vonn also won in Val d'Isère in December 2005 and is the only woman to win the Val d'Isère Downhill four times.
  • Don’t worry, I've already asked the organizing committee if they’ll have a cow this year to give. They confirmed. Lindsey smiled. Just so you know, Lindsey’s cow Winnie is still in Val d’Isère at the farm, and will be transported to Soelden or Kirchberg (with the rest of the herd) in the spring.
  • Alice has been skiing smoking-hot in training runs this week, as have Laurenne and Stacey. Laurenne’s shoulder is nagging her a bit from her fall the other day near the finish, but it doesn’t seem to bother her when she’s skiing so keep an eye out for that ripper. She skied fast in Val d’Isère last year and was leading splits before she crashed. She’s right in there. I like her fire and I think she has it in her. The young Jackie Wiles rounds out the #SpeedUnicorns and dialed some stuff in yesterday during the downhill portion of the Alpine Combined, finishing 9th. She’s ready to bring that momentum to today’s race. RAWR.

Who’s in the hunt? Austria’s Cornelia Hütter (22) finished second and third in the Downhill races in Lake Louise two weeks ago. Together with Vonn she was the only woman to finish on the podium in both races. Switzerland’s Lara Gut (20) is riding high from yesterday’s Combined win, and she's won the Val d'Isère Downhill in December 2012, her first of four downhill World Cup victories. Keep an eye, also, on fellow countrywoman Fabienne Suter, who will run right after Gut today. I’m going to throw in Austria’s Liz Goergl (16) too, because I like her and she’s feisty and she’s focusing solely on speed this season so I think she’s one to watch.

TV and Live Streaming Schedule (times EST):
Saturday, Dec. 19
4:30 a.m. - Women's DH, Val d'Isere - NBC Live Extra - LIVE STREAM
6:00 a.m. - Men's DH, Val Gardena- NBC Live Extra - LIVE STREAM
11:00 a.m. - Women's DH, Val d'Isere - Universal HD
12:30 p.m. - Men's SG, Val Gardena, Universal HD

*Follow the action from Val Gardena on Snapchat (usskiteam).*

See you lederhosen!

Ski in Peace,

Megan

World Cup Notes 18.12.15 | The SG and AC (that's Alpine Combined) Edition

Megan Harrod

As you likely know, I was relocated from Val d’Isere with the ladies to Val Gardena with the men for the weekend. Though I miss being with the ladies’ tour over in France, I have to say…oh Italia, Italia…how do I love thee?! Let me count thy ways. This place is pretty unique. It’s the Saslong. It’s menacing and magnificent all at the same time, towering over the famed track here at Val Gardena – a classic on the tour. YES!! Always like a kid in a candy shop. The vibe here is superb.  We’re having FUN. Are you?!

The Scoop/Course Report: There might not be a ton of snow on the Saslong, but it’s buff and ready to go. Feels a little spring-like. Buttery. Colorado-esque. In other words, the guys like it. Mmmm. The course crew has done another wonder here, making mountains out of molehills. It looks and feels good. We’re anxious for go-time here. I caught up with Andrew “Warhorse” Weibrecht after inspection and he said the set is pretty straight, and they’ve taken out a lot of terrain, which he’s not wild about. This will favor the bigger guys who like to glide.
For more goodies: Check out the men’s and women’s preview for the weekend.

Val Gardena – Men’s Super G

  • Start time: 12:15 CET
  • U.S. Starters: Andrew Weibrecht (10), Travis Ganong (12), Tommy Biesemeyer (25), Jared Goldberg (36), Wiley Maple (40), Steven Nyman (41), Bryce Bennett (56), and Marco Sullivan (61).
  • Weibrecht doesn’t typically prefer this track, as his skills lend themselves more on the technical side and he thinks this tracks is more of a glider’s track, but in downhill training he threw down some pretty fast skiing, and coming out of Birds of Prey he’s feeling confident and ready. Did you read the “Behind the Gold” written on Andrew this week?! So good. What a great guy.
  • Ganong (3rd), Ligety (4th) and Weibrecht (9th) are all ranked in the top 10 of the current Super G standings. Only Austria have also three skiers in the top 10 of the current Super G standings. Watch out, Austria. Here we come. Ligety will sit this one out and channel his energy and focus towards Alta Badia’s GS on Sunday.
  • Ganong is feeling good on his equipment set-up here, at least for downhill, and he’s got the confidence from skiing consistently fast so far this season. This is what he had to say after downhill training yesterday, "I am having really good feelings right now on my skis. The equipment is just feeling really good. We have these new skis—we had only one pair the first couple of races, and now have a couple more pairs. So we’re breaking them in here. With all of the rollers and the bumps and terrain, I feel really grounded and really solid on my feet. That’s what’s key here at Val Gardena. In the past, I’ve always gotten a little bumped and thrown around. But right now with the equipment, I feel really grounded and catlike and able to really suck up terrain and find the backside of rolls. It’s really fun to ski right now…I feel like I’m in control. This hill is about gliding, but it’s also about terrain management—figuring out how to link all the terrain together and carry all of your speed.”
  • In his comeback race at Birds of Prey, Tommy “BZ” Biesemeyer skied from the back of the pack into an impressive 11th place finish. It was inspiring, and it was my highlight of the weekend. Without a doubt. He arrived to Val Gardena yesterday and he’s ready to have some fun. That’s where the focus is…not on the result, but on having fun and doing his best. His perspective is great.
  • The rest of the boys are feeling good after piping some downhill turns and laying down some fast skiing in downhill training, and they’re ready to ROCK. Cross your fingers. Wear your unicorn masks. Or stars and stripes leggings. Whatever you do, CHEER LOUD!

Who’s in the hunt?
The Norwegians (aka the “Attacking Vikings”). Aksel Lund Svindal (21) has won 13 World Cup races in the super G, second most among men behind Austria’s Hermann Maier, the LEGEND, who has won almost double the amount of races (24). Svindal's 23 podium finishes in this discipline is third most together with Pirmin Zurbriggen (Switzerland) and Didier Cuche (Switzerland). He needs one more top 3 finish to equal Stephan Eberharter (Austria, 24) in second place. Svindal has won the Val Gardena Super G on a record three occasions. He was victorious in December 2009, December 2012 and December 2013. So yeah, you see what I mean?! The Norwegians. That Kjetil Jansrud (22) guy runs 22 today. He’s been skiing pretty fast too. Keep an eye out, might be the #Svinsrud show here at Val Gardena today!!

Val d’Isere – Women’s Alpine Combined (AC)

  • Start time: 10:30 CET (downhill), 13:45 CET (slalom)
  • U.S. Starters: Lindsey Vonn (2), Laurenne Ross (11), and Jackie Wiles (24).
  • A lot of people don’t prefer the Alpine Combined (aka Super Combined/SC), but I think it’s rad. One run each of the two most disparate disciplines?! It takes someone special to do well.
  • Vonn has won the final standings in the AC on three occasions and is looking to equal record holders Brigitte Oertli (Switzerland) and Janica Kostelic (Croatia) on four wins. Late last season she asked if there would be a globe for the Combined event this season. She likes it, and she likes Val d’Isere. That’s because she’s dominated the downhill there. She has won five World Cup events in the AC. She also won the downhill here last year, snagging another cow for her herd in Kirchberg, which she named Winnie.
  • How does Vonn feel about her slalom prep, though?! "I’ve had about two days of slalom. I feel like in slalom, I just have to wing it. And I feel good. Like I’ve been saying the last couple days, I feel really balanced on my skis, so I’m hoping for a good downhill run. I’ll definitely have to ski very fast in downhill and then hopefully just have a solid slalom run.”
  • Keep an eye out for Ross and Wiles too. Ross has been skiing consistently fast in downhill and has the technical skill to finish well today. Wiles is young, but she’s strong and she’s fierce…a risk-taker on the mountain in search of speed and a fun one to follow. She’ll also be rocking her new headgear sponsor, the Lindsey Vonn Foundation. How cool is that?!

Who’s in the hunt?
Vonn thinks her biggest competition for today’s AC will be Austria’s Michaela Kirchgasser (22) and Switzerland’s Lara Gut (21): "I think Kirchgasser is probably my biggest threat, and so yesterday she was about 2.5 seconds back. I would like a little bit more since she’s so good at slalom. So, I don’t know. I think Lara Gut’s also really good in slalom. I’d like a 2.5-second margin over Kirchgasser. That would be great. I don’t know if I’ll get it, but I am going to try.” Those Austrian women are in the hunt for back-to-back AC discipline wins. Last season Austria’s Anna Fenninger won the only AC World Cup event, thus finishing on top of the standings. But guess what?! Sadly Fenninger is out this year, and Vonn is hungry for some AC “W”.

TV and Live Streaming Schedule (times EST):
Friday, Dec. 18
4:30 a.m. - Women's SC-DH, Val d'Isere - NBC Live Extra - LIVE STREAM
6:00 a.m. - Men's SG, Val Gardena - NBC Live Extra - LIVE STREAM
7:30 a.m. - Women's SC-SL, Val d'Isere - NBC Live Extra - LIVE STREAM
1:00 p.m. - Men's SG, Val Gardena, Universal HD
2:30 p.m. - Women's CO, Val d'Isere, Universal HD

*Follow the action from Val Gardena on Snapchat (usskiteam).*

You know what?! Excited about today, but I can’t wait for tomorrow, can’t wait for tomorrow, can’t wait for tomorrow…love me some downhill day action.

Buckle up, here weeeeee go!

Ski in Peace,

Megan

World Cup Notes 13.12.15 | The Sunday Slalom Edition

Megan Harrod

Yesterday was a rough day and a beautiful day, simultaneously. Those mixed emotions…they’re messing with my head! Val D’Isere is something we won’t linger on, let’s move onward and upward. On the ladies’s side, Mikaela Shiffrin sat yesterday’s GS out and we missed her immensely.

Then there was LV…it was incredible to watch Lindsey Vonn ski to her first GS victory since 2013 and her second GS victory in Åre, Sweden (2012 was the first). The woman has won four World Cup races (two downhills, one super G and one GS) in a row and she is quite simply EN FUEGO. She’s seriously awe-inspiring. A league of her own. That’s her 71st win. She’s on a roll, and will look ahead to Val D’Isere, where she’s had success in the past.

But now…it’s time, to look ahead to Slalom Sunday…it’s not a day of rest, people. Church is the mountain today and the White Circus is the congregation. Scary. And amazing.

The Scoop/Course Report from Val D'Isere: Fortunately, today is a new day and slalom is a different story here at Val D’Isere for our guys. The course conditions are superb, and the set is straightforward here in Val D’Isere. From Head Coach Sasha Rearick: "It’s a normal slalom set on top, nice rhythm. At the bottom the Germans have set a hairpin, hairpin combo. You could run it three different ways. We’re going to run it over the top, over the top, normal normal. That way it’s just going to run in rhythm and you can ski it with the greatest confidence and just absolutely go through it with full gas.”

Val D’Isere, France – Men’s Slalom

  • Start time: 1st run 9:30, 2nd run 12:30 CET.
  • U.S. Starters: David Chodounsky (24), Ted Ligety (31), Michael Ankeny (34), and Tim Kelley (40), Robby Kelley (51), and Mark Engel (58).
  • David Chodounsky likes this track. He likes the technicality and the surface. Of the three times he’s skied this track, he’s finished top 15 twice. In fact, in 2013 he finished 7th – his best World Cup finish to date.
  • Ted is smiling today. Ask him about yesterday and he'll insist he didn't ski a GS yesterday. It's like it never happened. He’s actually upstairs working on his GoPro right now. Today is a new day. He’s experienced flashes of brilliance and he can ski slalom like a boss.
  • I do believe this is the first time siblings, the "Bash Brothers", Robby and Tim Kelley will be skiing in a World Cup race together. That’s gotta be inspiring. You know what’s also inspiring?! Their family.  As members of the famous 'Skiing Cochran's’ lineage, Robby and Tim Kelley are the sons of Steve and Lindy Kelley. Lindy was a 1976 Olympian and eight-year member of the U.S. Ski Team in the 70's. Older siblings Jessica has also been a member of the U.S. Ski Team and have roots at the University of Vermont. Cousin Jimmy Cochran is also an alumnus, while his other cousin Ryan Cochran-Siegle is also on the U.S. Ski Team and currently on a comeback (part of #teamresitommyryanANDerik).
  • Watch also Michael Ankeny (Minnesota/North Pride!!) and Mark Engel. They’ve both been skiing well in training and are excited to rip this track.

Who’s in the hunt?
Marcel Hirscher’s (4) been waiting for today. With Levi being cancelled, it’s the 2015/16 slalom World Cup kick off for the men. Hirscher has won 16 World Cup Slalom races, ranking him equal third with Marc Girardelli on the all-time list. Only Ingemar Stenmark (40) and Alberto Tomba (35) have won more. That’s LEGEND status, my friends. Hirscher won the last slalom race in Méribel. He can win back to back slalom races for the first time since a streak of three in December 2012 to January 2013. Felix Neureuther (5) finished 2nd to Hirscher in the slalom overall last season. Neureuther won two slalom World Cup races last season, equal many as Henrik Kristoffersen (1). Only Hirscher had more.

Alexander Khoroshilov (2) finished 3rd in the slalom World Cup standings last season. He won at the famed Schladming Night Slalom, becoming the first Russian man to win a World Cup race since Alexander Zhirov won the Slalom in Borovetz in 1981 while competing for Soviet Union. I remember that night clearly. My great friend Ana Jelusic with FIS wasn’t there, and I had the honor of interviewing Khoroshilov after his first win. Didn’t have much to say, and I said too much (classic), but he was clearly excited. Also watch: Alexis Pinturault (10), who will create a show for the home crowd, and Stefano Gross (6), Mattias Hargin (7), Andrew Myrer (11), Markus Larsson (15), etc.  I like Gross’ and Hargin’s intensity. If they score, watch them in the finish. Rad.

Åre, Sweden – Women’s Slalom

  • Start time: 1st run 10:30, 2nd run 13:30 CET.
  • U.S. Starters: Resi Stiegler (18) and Paula Moltzan (34).
  • Mikaela Shiffrin, currently leading slalom standings, will not be present today. She has traveled back to the states for further evaluation following a fall during yesterday morning’s free ski warm-up and a possible right knee injury. Shiffrin will be sorely missed, as she has won seven of the last eight slalom World Cup races, including the last five. Mika, we’ll miss you and can’t wait to see you back here. For further information, stay tuned to Mikaela’s social media networks.
  • Stiegler absolutely CRUSHED in Aspen, scoring a 15th and 10th place result, respectively, which are – in fact – the best results from a comeback standpoint in her career. She’s fierce and she’s on fire. Major apologies, for I somehow neglected to include Stiegler in my preview the other day…I’m a HUGE fan, so that was my bad. She will be racing and she will be looking for speed.
  • Moltzan is my Minnesota girl, and I think today’s her day for the flip. She’s got a great chance. She’s also the World Juniors slalom champ from last year, so this girl can ski and she can ski under pressure. GO PAULA!

Who’s in the hunt?
Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter (3) finished third and second in the opening two slalom races of this World Cup season (both in Aspen). Hansdotter finished as runner up in last season's Slalom World Cup, 110 points behind Shiffrin. Hansdotter has only won two World Cup races in her career, and today is her chance for the big win, on home turf. And then there’s the always powerful Veronika Velez Zuzulová (5) finished on the podium in four of the last five slalom World Cup races. I’m partial to those Eastern Europeans, and I like to watch Zuzu ski. As Mikaela noted in Aspen, before Zuzu went out on Sunday, her splits were fast…right there with Mikaela. It could also be Zuzu’s big chance today. Zuzulová’s only slalom World Cup race win dates back to 29 December 2012 in Semmering. Sarka Strachova (4), Maria Pietilä Holmner (7), and those Canadians have been skiing well too…I like those chicks, and they rip: Erin Mielzynski (2) and Marie-Michele “Mitch” Gagnon (14).

THIS WEEK – CHANGE IN MY TRAVEL PLANS: Rather than staying in Val D’Isere, I will be traveling with the men to Val Gardena and Alta Badia next week/end to hang with the American Downhillers, who have had much success in Val Gardena, and Ted Ligety and the U.S. Tech Nerds, who dig Alta Badia. My family (mother, father, sister-in-law and brother) will join me as well, so they’ll look forward to the White Circus’ warm welcome.

TV and Live Streaming Schedule (times EST):
Sunday, Dec. 13
3:30 a.m. - Men's SL1, Val d'Isere - NBC Live Extra - LIVE STREAM
4:30 a.m. - Women's SL1, Are- NBC Live Extra - LIVE STREAM
6:30 a.m. - Men's SL2, Val d'Isere - NBC Live Extra - LIVE STREAM
7:30 a.m. - Women's SL2, Are - NBC Live Extra - LIVE STREAM
3:00 p.m. - Men's SL, Val d'Isere, Universal HD
3:00 p.m. - Men's GS, Val d'Isere, Universal HD
4:30 p.m. - Women's GS, Val d'Isere, Universal HD

I did it. I gave in. I have my lucky American flag leggings and WonderWoman socks on today. Yesterday was a rough day. I had to. Come on, guys, let’s go!

Ski in peace,

Megan

World Cup Notes 12.12.15 | La face de Bellevarde Redemption Edition

Megan Harrod

It’s time to tackle Europe and the tech teams are back at it this weekend, with the men in Val D’Isere and the women in Åre. What’s on tap?! Let’s dive in…

The Scoop:
I’ll tell you what, France knows how to party. It’s like one big party over here. Seriously…the music outside my window last night post-bib draw and fireworks display was deafening. Rest assured, the French know how to have fun. There’s a little place called La Folie Douce near the start of the women’s downhill. It’s like a dance club with cabaret on a mountain (aka heaven). We celebrated the season’s end at La Folie in Meribel. Good memories. There’s something special about this place.

You know what else is special?! La Face de Bellevarde. And when I say “special” I mean super-challenging. It’s a battle all the way down this track. it’s steep, it’s technical and its terrain is the real deal. It’s dark too. Last night there was some chatter among the top 7 athletes, with Ted and Marcel leading the charge, in an effort to adjust the start time to make it more fair for all the athletes from a visibility standpoint. There was talk of athletes skipping bib draw to get a later start number, but in the end everyone showed up. The thing is, it gets dark on this pitch just after 1pm, and at that point it’s almost better for the entire pitch to be consistently dark rather than the sun to be hitting in spots and shade falling in others. It’s gnarly. And it’s fun.
Check out the preview for more details.

Val D’Isere, France – Men’s Giant Slalom

  • Start time: 1st run 9:30, 2nd run 12:30.
  • U.S. Starters: Ted Ligety (5), Tim Jitloff (15), David Chodounsky (30), and Tommy Ford 41.
  • The last time the guys skied this track (last year they were redirected to Åre due to poor snow conditions in Val D’Isere for the men’s tech races), Ted lost the battle with the Bellevarde, sliding out on his left hip. But you know what else?! He was leading by 8 tenths at the split before he went out.
  • That was the first time since 2009 Ligety had missed an Audi FIS Ski World Cup giant slalom final. It was also the first time Ligety had not landed on a giant slalom podium since the 2012 season opening victory in Soelden, Austria. In 2010, Ted emerged victorious and in 2012 he came in third on La Face de Bellevarde. It’s not his favorite track. It’s not Jit’s either. It’s a fight all the way down. This is what Ted had to say in 2013 after his fall, "This course is always super, super bumpy and miserable to ski so I wasn't surprised by that at all. It's not ideal. It's the kind of hill where anything can really happen, because it's such a tough and rough and bumpy hill.” Will Ted find his redemption today?!
  • Tim Jitloff agrees. He told me he hasn’t had luck on this track historically. It’s a full-on fight all the way to the bottom.
  • This will be David Chodounsky’s first go on the Bellevarde. He LOVES the technicality of the slalom track here, but he’s never skied GS here before. Sat withhim at breakfast and he said, through a big smile, he’s looking forward to the challenge and seeing what it’s all about.
  • Tommy Ford has been laying down solid GS results in recent NorAms, and at Birds of Prey he was crushing, but had a couple of sizable mistakes. Yesterday in training Forest Carey said Ford’s turns were perfectly symmetrical…the most symmetrical he’s seen – better, even than Ted’s. I’ve always said that Tommy is one of the most beautiful, fluid arc’ers I’ve witnessed. Once I told him he reminds me of Ted, to which he replied, “I taught him everything he knows.” Smart guy. Equal pressure on the top and the bottom of the turn…Tommy is ripping.
  • Today's GS course is set by Austria and is more open, less offset and flows more with the piste than we’ve seen it in the past. Head Tech Coach Forest Carey told the boys, “It’s a battle. The set is better, more normal than what we’ve seen in the past,” but Head Coach Sasha Rearick reminded the guys that it’s a two run battle all the way to the finish"

Who’s in the Hunt: You know the drill. Hirscher won here in 2013, the last time they took on this piste. I saw him arc’ing during inspection. He likey. He runs 3rd today and can win a record fifth World Cup race in Val d’Isère. I think the technicality will lend itself well to Kristoffersen’s style too. That’s all I got today. I’m tapped out. Jet lagged.

Åre, Sweden – Women’s Giant Slalom

  • Start time: 1st run 10:30, 2nd run 1:30.
  • U.S. Starters: Mikaela Shiffrin (5) and Lindsey Vonn (16).
  • Over in Åre, Sweden, Mikaela Shiffrin and current World Cup leader Lindsey Vonn will be in the spotlight in a weekend of tech racing. It’s far too early to start talking overall World Cup standings, but Shiffrin’s sitting in the second position right now behind Vonn, by four points. This is pretty rad, huh?! Off to a great start for the U.S. ladies.
  • These ladies love Åre—it’s where Shiffrin grabbed her first Audi FIS Ski World Cup slalom win and the last time Vonn was here, she snagged a win of her own in March of 2012. Shiffrin will look to build on her success here, and channel some of the success she’s had in slalom here in GS.

Who’s in the Hunt: Watch Sara Hector (1) and all of those Swedes…they’re on their home hill and they love skiing at home.

TV and Live Streaming Schedule (times EST):
Saturday, Dec. 12
3:30 a.m. - Men's GS1, Val d'Isere - NBC Live Extra - LIVE STREAM
4:30 a.m. - Women's GS1, Are- NBC Live Extra - LIVE STREAM
6:30 a.m. - Men's GS2, Val d'Isere - NBC Live Extra- LIVE STREAM
7:30 a.m. - Women's GS2, Are- NBC Live Extra - LIVE STREAM
3:00 p.m. - Men's GS, Val d'Isere, Universal HD
4:30 p.m. - Women's GS, Val d'Isere, Universal HD

Remember, WE’RE ON SNAPCHAT! Find us and follow us to get the behind-the-scenes from the road all winter long: @usskiteam! Check out the attached 10-second course report from Head Coach Sasha Rearick. That and more on Snapchat!

That’s all I got. Let’s do this. I’m anxious. Could be a big day for the U.S. Tech Nerds!

Ski in Peace,

Megan

World Cup Notes 6.12.15 | The will-it-be-six-on-the-sixth Edition

Megan Harrod

First off, can we talk about yesterday?! I’m still in awe. Jaw-dropping historical performance by the boys at Birds of Prey. Add on top of that #LV69 up in Lake Lindsey. What an incredible day. I love my job every day, but it’s days like yesterday that make me IN love with my job and fall deeper and deeper for this beautiful sport. A historical day at Birds of Prey, with 4 men in the top 11 – our best ever super G result as a team. 5 in the points. SO. MUCH. DAMN. FUN. 

The Scoop: Onward and upward…to today! 5 times. That’s how many victories The Ligety Show has had on this track…straight. Will he snag his 6th today?! I’m a kid in a candy shop! The course set looks good, but it’s a bit offset. The guys will have to be charging and working all the way to the bottom.  

But today, my friends, there’s another show in town…and it’s called The Shiff Show. It’s Mikaela Shiffrin’s speed debut today in Lake Louise. How exciting is this?! When asked about her speed debut, she said, “I’m going to be attacking as much as I can,” Shiffrin said at her victory press conference in Aspen. “I am really excited to see what World Cup speed is all about. I’ll try to learn as much as I can from the other U.S. girls and from Lindsey and our coaches. I’m really excited. I like super G a lot, so I’ll be going for it. I just don’t know exactly where that will put me.”

Beaver Creek, CO – Men’s Giant Slalom

  • Start time: 1st run 9:45, 2nd run 12:45. 
  • U.S. Starters: Ted Ligety (4), Tim Jitloff (12), Tommy Ford (42)…and then those Dartmouth boys holding down the 50+ fort with Michael Ankeny (50), David Chodounsky (51), and Andrew Weibrecht (62).
  • Ok, let’s talk about that Mr. GS, shall we?! For the record…he doesn’t really dig the name “Mr. GS” and has said often that he’d like to be known as a powerhouse among multi disciplines, with the overall being an ultimate goal. His four successive World Cup (excluding 2015 World Champs’ gold here) wins at Birds of Prey equals the record of winning a specific men’s World Cup event at least four times in a row at the same venue as one of his childhood ski heroes, Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark between ’79 and ’82. On top of that, Ligety has won 24 GS World Cup races, second most among, behind Stenmark, who won almost twice the amount of races with 46. Okay, so there’s no wonder why Ted is called “Mr. GS,” but you can see after his performance yesterday that he’s more than worthy of a broader title. 
  • Last year here Daver scored his first World Cup GS points, skiing from bib 66 to 17th. He was stoked and GOSH, that was fun. Keep an eye out for that Tommy Ford today. He grabbed a great result yesterday, landing in 28th and grabbing points and he’s been smoking lately, with back-to-back GS NorAM victories at Copper Mountain, with an impressively stacked field (aka he beat Fritz Dopfer, folks). 
  • Horse is having a great weekend and he’s joining those #USTechNerds today for some fun. He had a great prep camps this summer with tech, and Head Coach Sasha Rearick is excited about how he’s skiing. 
  • Michael Ankeny is a Minnesota boy, and he’s one of the most genuine guys I’ve met. Naturally. Love the midwest! Central Nation (ski ya later, Brewster!) pride. Guess what?! This is his World Cup GS debut, and he told me after inspection that the course is awesome and they’ll be working all the way down. Mikey likes it! 

Who’s in the Hunt: Want to know something else that’s wild?! Of the last 27 Giant Slalom World Cup races, only four were not won by Ligety or Marcel Hirscher. WAIT. Seriously?! Yep, that’s right. 

Of these four races, Alexis Pinturault (5) won two and Henrik Kristoffersen (lucky number 7) and Felix Neureuther (6) won one. I caught up with Felix last night at dinner. He was in a three-way tie for sixth at Soelden. He started bib 6 then too. What’s with all the 6’s?! Today, I like him for a podium. he’s my favorite guy on the circuit – just an all-around stand-up guy. Marcel Hirscher (2). This guy is dominant. And consistent to boot. Hirscher has finished in the top 4 in each of the last 20 Giant Slalom World Cup races and has only been outside the top 10 once in the last 34 World Cup Giant Slalom races he participated in (16th in Adelboden, Jan. 2013). He finished third in the season opener at Soelden behind Ligety and France’s Thomas Fanara (3)…so today he’ll be pushing, pushing, pushing for the W. And he has confidence after his performance yesterday – his first super G victory. I asked him if the course was “crushable” during inspection today. He said, “I hope.” Man of few words. Fanara has yet to win a World Cup. Watch for Fritz Dopfer (1) and that Italian Roberto Nani (15) too. Oooooooh, this is exciting, right?! Yep.

Lake Louise – Women’s Super G

  • Start time: 11am local time
  • U.S. Starters: Laurenne Ross (12), Lindsey Vonn (21), Stacey Cook (23), Mikaela Shiffrin (32), Anna Marno (35), Alice McKennis (38), and Abby Ghent (43). 
  • It’s not all about downhill at Lake Louise for Vonn, of her 17 victories at the venue, three of them have been super G victories. Her seven podium finishes in Lake Louise are already an outright record among men and women in the super G. Vonn can win the Lake Louise Super G a record four times as she is currently tied with Renate Götschl and Katja Seizinger with three wins.
  • Mikaela is enjoying speed, and the vibe of the team as a whole has been excellent. In a recent Copper FIS DH with a hearty field, Shiffrin landed in 10th, ahead of the veteran Liz Georgl. This is what she had to say: "The second race [of the Copper FIS downhill series] was really good, it just takes me a little bit to understand exactly how straight I can go. Super G is a little different…so maybe I’ll have a better shot at super G than downhill. We’ll see. I’m excited.”
  • Stacey didn’t have a great day yesterday, but she’ll be looking for speed today. She’s staying positive and of course she loves Lake Louise. 

Who’s in the Hunt: Things will start to get really interesting around bib number 20, when Lara Gut runs…follow that up with Vonn, and then Austria's Liz Goergl (22), who – after last season – has decided to keep her focus on speed events. Gut won the super G last year, and also won in 2013 and can equal Vonn’s record by winning the Super G in Lake Louise three times in a row as Vonn was victorious in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Cornelia Huetter (17) was 4th last year in the Super G standings and she’s has a great chance to get in there today. 

TV and Live Streaming Schedule (times EST):
1:00 p.m. - Women's SG, Lake Louise  - NBC Live Extra - LIVE STREAM
5:00 p.m. - Men's GS, Beaver Creek – NBC and NBC Live Extra - LIVE STREAM
8:30 p.m. - Women's SG, Lake Louise, Universal HD

MY UPCOMING SCHEDULE: Heading to Euroland on Wednesday for four months straight. I can HARDLY wait. Val D’Isere next…and here’s the rest of my schedule for the winter.

Last but not least, WE’RE ON SNAPCHAT! Find us and follow us to get the behind-the-scenes from the road all winter long: @usskiteam!

Wearing the lucky muscle leggings today. Sad to be leaving the Beav today…can’t believe it’s coming to an end. Kudos to the entire organizing staff and the incredible volunteers in the Talon Crew for all that you guys have done to pull off yet another amazing event. As Ted Ligety said, you guys are “second to none.” 

Ski in Peace, 

Megan

World Cup Notes 5.12.15 | The #LV69 Edition

Megan Harrod

LINDSEY VONN, FOLKS! She’s one of the only ladies I know who can do the splits during a World Cup downhill and still finish nearly six tenths ahead of the field. Unbelivable. She snagged her sweet 16th victory at Lake Lindsey yesterday, and today she’ll be going for her 69th career victory. Rack ‘em up, girl. And how about that Andrew Weibrecht yesterday?! He skied from 34th to 5th yesterday, snagging his best downhill finish of his career…on home turf no less. Welcome back to the top 30, Horse. 

It’s a snowy one here at the Beav. There’s quite a bit of loose snow in the track here. The Talon Crew has their work cut out for them today, my friends. But they’re magicians…the best in the biz…and I have no doubt they’ll make make magic happen today. And they have some help, too. The coaches are taking a hot lap and slipping out the soft stuff too. It takes a village to put on a ski race. 

The Scoop: The Americans have yet to win a World Cup Super G on home snow. Is that for real?! Sure is. Bode podiumed in 2004, but he is the only American to reach the super G podium here (second place). There’s no day like today, right?! Big ol’ Bryce Bennett just told me the course is “PIPABLE” (I’m not even sure if that’s how you spell that). Yesterday Bryce scored his first World Cup points when he skied from 53rd to 28th. He was so stoked and that was so rad. Surface out there today looks good underneath, but because of the snow, reserve start will be used in today’s super G. 

Beaver Creek, CO – Men’s Super G

  • Start time: 11am local time
  • U.S. Starters: Travis Ganong (2), Andrew Weibrecht (10), Ted Ligety (29), Jared Goldberg (36), Tommy “BZ” Biesemeyer (42), Steven Nyman (46), Tim Jitloff (50), Bryce Bennett (56), and Tommy Ford (58). 
  • This is a Warhorse kind ‘ day. Funny, in 2007 when Andrew finished 10th from 53rd, the weather was similar to this. Worse, even. Visibility was low and it was gnarly. The Horse doesn’t mind one bit. Today’s his day. The last time a man from United States reached the podium in a super G World Cup race was Miller, when he finished third in Lenzerheide in March 2014. Yo ugot this 
  • Ready for the “T” show?! Here we go. Travis finished fourth last week in the Lake Louise super G and after a disappointing day yesterday, these guys are MAD and ready to ski fast. They said so last night. He’ll be looking for the fast line today and I don’t doubt that he’ll find it. Ted “Shred” Ligety will be coming in hot at bib 29 today. Tomorrow is his big show, but he’s no stranger to success in super G. Remember he was victorious in super G in 2013 Worlds at Schladming?! Tommy Biesemeyer is back and feeling good. He spoke with our friend George Thomas this week for a little update on what it’s like to return to snow. Tommy Ford has been CRUSHING lately, picking up two NorAm GS wins last week at Copper. He’s one of the most beautiful, fluid, powerful skiers I’ve seen. Keep an eye out. 
  • Alpine Director Patrick Riml says you just have to trust it and go, boys. It’s go time!

Who’s in the Hunt: DAYUM, those Attacking Vikings. They’re unstoppable, huh?! Aksel Lund Svindal (20) has won 13 World Cup races in the Super G, second most among men behind the man, the myth, the legend, Hermann Maier, who has won almost double the amount of races (24). Jansrud coming in at 16. Might be the Svinsrud show again today. Very likely. That’s all I got right now. I’m still in awe of Svindal’s run yesterday…how does the big man find that much speed on top?! 

Lake Louise – Women’s Downhill

  • GO time: 12:45 local time
  • U.S. Starters: Stacey Cook (9), Laurenne Ross (12), Lindsey Vonn (lucky number 16), Alice McKennis (24), Jackie Wiles (28), Breezy Johnson (yes, that really is her name) bib 41, and Anna Marno (48). 
  • There’s another chance for strong results from the Speed Unicorns today up in Lake Louise! Yeeeeeeeehaw. These girls have the capability to stack the top 10. They’re inspired by Lindsey’s result and recovery yesterday and the team vibe is good. 
  • Stacey made a sizable mistake yesterday that cost her some time, and she’s ready to crush today. Laurenne told me she skied like a goon. Today she won’t be skiing like a goon. Alice will throw down today. Jackie was strong in training runs and can definitely grab a top 15. It’ll be Breezy’s second World Cup race and some World Cup points are on the platter for her to eat up today. Come on, ladies…let’s do this. 

Who’s in the Hunt: They’ll all be gunning for Vonn, but to be quite honest…if VONN is ON, no one can catch her. Just sayin’. #LV69.

TV Schedule (times EST):
1:00 p.m. - Men's SG, Beaver Creek - NBCSN - LIVE
1:00 p.m. - Men's SG, Beaver Creek - NBC Live Extra - LIVE STREAM
2:30 p.m. - Women's DH, Lake Louise  - NBC Live Extra - LIVE STREAM
8:30 p.m. - Women's DH, Lake Louise, Universal HD

Ski in Peace, 

Megan

World Cup Notes 4.12.15 | DOWNHILL DAY Edition

Megan Harrod

DOWNHILL DAY. It might as well be Christmas morning, because I couldn’t sleep. The presents under the Christmas tree today are the #AmericanDownhillers. Presents that hurl their bodies down a mountain at 90 mph and are in constant beastmode-style?! The best. 

The Scoop: It’s a another gorgeous day on the Birds of Prey downhill track. It’s buff, it’s fast and it’s ready for some downhill day action, my friends! The Brink looks delicious. Or gnarly. Depending on how you look at it. I caught up with Bode during inspection, talking about the Brink. Just stoked. It’s faster today than it’s been the past two days in training. It’s slick and the guys are going to be sending it like crazy today. Over Golden Eagle there’s a bit of a tail-wind. As D Team athlete/forerunner Sam Morse said, “It’s going to be BOOSTING today!” Ask any nation and they’ll tell you they love it here at Birds of Prey. That buttery smooth, grippy Colorado surface makes the hill that much better – thanks, hugely, to the Talon Crew. They’ve done an outstanding job preparing the course after Mother Nature dumped 21 inches of fresh snow over the last week. This is a world-class course crew, and they’re ready for some world-class ski racing to commence. Let’s do this, shall we?! 

Check out the men’s speed preview

Meanwhile, up in Lake Louise…Success is no stranger to the U.S. Ski Team speed women at Lake Louise. In fact, Lindsey Vonn has won so many times on this track it’s been deemed “Lake Lindsay.” For good reason, seeing as though she’s snagged 15 victories in Lake Louise – by far the most by a single skier at a specific venue – 12 in downhill and three in super G. Count ‘em. Today is going to be FUN. 

Check out the women’s speed preview

Here we gooooooo!

Beaver Creek, CO – Men’s Downhill

  • Start time: 10:45am local time
  • U.S. Starters: Steven Nyman (bib 13) Travis Ganong (bib 14), Marco Sullivan (29), Andrew Weibrecht (34), Jared Goldberg (37) and big ol' Bryce Bennett (53). 
  • “We are on home turf. We’re going to show the world that this victory goes to us. I really want to see some fire here, and I know we can sweep the podium. Lets be confident.” said Head Men’s Speed Coach Alex Hoedlmoser in team meeting.
  • I sat with the boys, Travis Ganong, Steven Nyman and Marco Sullivan, last night at dinner. They couldn’t be more ready to send it. Nyman and Ganong were the top Americans in training runs, and they know they’ve got more in them. A couple of slight tweaks here and there and they’ll be gunning for the W.  
  • Check out what Nyman had to say about maintaining focus earlier this week on George Thomas’ Snowbound with Steven Nyman podcast. He and friend Ken Hoeve from TV8 switched it up the other day – Nyman tried out snowboarding and Hoeve skied for the first time ever. Hilarious. If you’re at Beaver Creek, keep an eye out for it on the big screen. 
  • Eight years ago here at Birds of Prey in his first World Cup downhill, that Warhorse (Andrew Weibrecht) skied from 53 to 10th place, in true Warhorse style. It was impressive. And he wants to sneak back into the top 30 in downhill. He can. He likely will. 
  • That big ol’ yeti Bryce Bennett had an excellent day 1 training run finishing 28th, and he’ll look to channel those good vibes and crush today. Jared Goldberg sat out Lake Louise to rest his back for the big show here at Beaver Creek. He’s feeling good too. Keep an eye on that guy. What about #MarcoRocks?! Pulling for that veteran to put on the rocket ship skis and kick it into another gear today. 

Who’s in the Hunt: Watch out for Italy’s Peter Fill (12) and Christof Innerhofer (1) too, and – of course – those Attacking Vikings Kjetil Jansrud (18) and and Aksel Lund-Svindal (16). Svindal recorded back-to-back wins at Lake Louise last weekend in his comeback weekend. He’s strong. He’s fierce. After a not-so-Jansrud lookin’ performance in Lake Louise, he’ll be looking for redemption in today’s downhill. He has proven that in training runs this week. Keep a close watch on Carlo Janka (15) – the Swiss Iceman – and Germany’s Josef Ferstl (24), and Austria’s Hannes Reichelt (17) and Matthias Mayer (22). Maybe throw that Frenchie Guillermo Fayed (20) in there. 

Lake Louise – Women’s Downhill

  • GO time: 12:45 local time
  • U.S. Starters: Stacey Cook (11), Laurenne Ross (18), Lindsey Vonn (21), Alice McKennis (24), Jackie Wiles (26), Breezy Johnson (41), Anna Marno (46), 
  • This year’s track boasts some new terrain that took some getting used to for the women. It didn’t seem to take too long for Vonn, who posted the 34th fastest time yesterday and the second fastest time in today’s training run. “I just had a different approach today,” Vonn said. “I changed some things in my line that yesterday didn't really pan out for me. But I was happy with my skiing. I definitely can clean up a few sections for tomorrow but in general it was a pretty solid run and I'm just looking forward to my first speed race of the season.
  • Vonn also announced yesterday that teammate Wiles will be named as the first-ever athlete ambassador for The Lindsey Vonn Foundation. “We’re really excited today to announce that I’m sponsoring Jackie through the Lindsey Vonn Foundation,” stated Vonn. “It’s actually me personally that’s sponsoring her but she’s going to be the newest ambassador for the foundation. I’m really proud of her. She’s done an amazing job in her career so far. She’s really young, talented, has a great attitude, so I think she’s a great ambassador for my foundation.”
  • Stacey Cook, who snagged second place in last year’s historic American podium sweep, finished third behind LV yesterday in training and she’s stoked to smoke it today. Alice McKennis has had strong training runs, and is feeling healthy and skiing better than ever. Laurenne Ross can sneak in to the top 5 too, definitely. 
  • The young Jackie Wiles with a 15th yesterday in the second of two training runs?! And the World Cup newcomer Breezy Johnson with 28th yesterday. I mean, it’s honestly not outlandish to say that the Americans could sweep the podium again today. Certainly possible to stack the top 15 hardcore-like. 

Who’s in the Hunt: Goodness, I don’t even know. With Anna Fenninger and Tina Maze out this season, I’m way bummed. Let’s say: keep an eye out on Lara Gut (16), Cornelia Huetter (10), Tina Weirather (18), Larisa Yurkiw (15), Mirjam Puchner (27), Vicktoria Rebensburg (22)…some usual suspects, some unusual. Throw in Lizzie Goergl there too…I like her feisty attitude and her experience. She’s focusing on speed solely this year. She’s running 19. 

TV Schedule (times EST):
Friday, Dec. 4

12:30pm – Men’s DH, Beaver Creek – NBCSN – Live
12:30pm – Men’s DH, Beaver Creek – NBC Live Extra – LIVE STREAM
2:30pm – Women’s DH, Lake Louise, NBC Live Extra – LIVE STREAM
8:30pm – Women’s DH, Lake Louise, Universal HD

Here we go!

Ski in Peace, 

Megan

World Cup Notes 29.11.15 | Another-Historical-Victory-by-a-20yr.-old Edition

Megan Harrod

OMG OMG OMG! How impressive was yesterday? Between Mikaela’s historic win at Aspen, Resi’s incredible comeback top 15 finish and Travis Ganong’s 3rd place up at Lake Louise, yesterday was a busy day and we’re proud to be Americans. It had been a high and dry 34 years, with no American standing atop the Audi FIS Ski World Cup podium at Aspen since Tamara McKinney won in 1981. Shiffrin didn’t just break the record – she absolutely CRUSHED it, winning by a massive 3.07 second margin. She stood on top of the podium with Tamara McKinney yesterday – what a beautiful sight –two class-act women sharing a historical moment. Atle Skaardal, World Cup Chief Race Director, noted that the margin yesterday was bringing us back to Stenmark’s time. Indeed. That’s legend-status.

Want to know something else that’s cool? This man and his wife came to watch the race yesterday, and along with him he brought McKinney’s signed bib from her 1981 World Cup victory. He was just 9 years old when he grabbed that signature. And he kept the bib. Love stories like that. Check out what Mikaela had to say after she won. 

It was Resi Stiegler, though, that really WOWED me. Her skiing on the top section was beautiful and aggressive…ACL and meniscus tear last season?! Couldn’t tell. She looked at me with excitement after her run and exclaimed, “That was my best comeback finish in my career!” If you watched her yesterday, you’ll see why she has reason to be excited. 

The Scoop: Sure, yesterday was exciting, but today’s a new day. And you better believe Frida Hansdotter and Veronika Velez Zuzulova aren’t going to let a margin like that happen again. But it’s not up to them, is it?! Targets on Shiffrin’s back…those girls want to close the gap. It’s going to be another beautiful day in Aspen. And the snow conditions and weather up in Lake Louise have been incredible. Head Coach Sasha Rearick told me last night that the boys were all a bit nervous – even Travis – but now that they’ve got that first race behind them they’ll be ready.

Aspen, Colorado - Women’s Slalom

  • 1st Run Start time: 10:00am MST. 2nd Run: 1:00pm. The first run set looks good…the snow is grippy and money like yesterday. I got the course report from Steve Porino’s 10-yr-old daughter today: “It’s icy!” But, in all seriousness…I caught up briefly with Schlep, Lila and Dykster after inspection and they all said it was nice. Should be fun. 
  • U.S. Starters: Mikaela Shiffrin (bib #4), Resi Stiegler (19), Paula Moltzan (32) and Lila Lapanja (bib 56). Team Mexico’s Sarah Schleper will run bib 67 today. ¡Ándale! ¡Ándale! ¡Arriba! ¡Arriba! ¡Epa! ¡Epa! ¡Epa! Yeehaw! RAWR!
  • Head Women’s Coach Paul Kristofic addressed the team last night at our meeting, “What you did today…you showed the rest of the world what’s possible to do out there. We’re pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in this sports, so congratulations on an amazing day. And Resi, to come back from an injury and ski the way you did today…you had some really fast, impressive splits. It is an incredible opportunity we have as a team to be pushing boundaries.” Patrick Riml echoed these sentiments and added, “It’s great to see the team together and the effort as a group. Really cool.”
  • As Mikaela noted at last night’s award ceremony, “If you feel like you left something on the hill, then you don’t deserve to be on the podium.” She’s taking risks and didn’t let Friday’s race stop her from pushing it yesterday. She also mentioned how fun it was to see her teammates skiing so fast, including Resi and Paula, and the fact that Lila has those first World Cup race jitters out of the way. BUCKLE UP, my friends, It’ll be another exciting day in Aspen.

Who’s in the Hunt:

The usual suspects Veronika Velez Zuzulova (1) and Frida Hansdotter (3) are going to be gunning for that top position. Sarka Strachova (5), too. Keep an eye on Maria Pietilae-Holmner (2), Nastasia Noens (8), Wendy Holdener (6)…and those Canadians again. I’ve got Marie-Michele Gagnon (11) “Mitch” for a top 5 today. She has to be motivated by boyfriend Travis’ finish yesterday. Teammate Erin Mielzynski will start 15. And why not, let’s throw an Austrian in there…they had an uncharacteristically rough day yesterday, so I think today that feisty Michaela Kirchgasser (14) will throw down today. I like her.

Lake Louise – Men’s Super G

  • GO time: 11:00 MST
  • U.S. Starters: Travis Ganong (bib 5), Andrew Weibrecht (12), Drew Duffy (40), Wiley Maple (42), Steven Nyman (44), Bryce Bennett (55) and Marco Sullivan (59). 
  • Travis is stoked to have stolen the American Downhiller vest back. But will he keep it for long, or will Weibrecht steal it back today?! Super G results count too, and I’m eager to see whose hands the coveted Levi’s denim vest will end up in today. This is what he had to say say yesterday, "Steve Nyman last year, he ended with the (American Downhiller) vest after World Cup Finals. So that was my goal all summer was to get the vest back, and I think I got it today so I have the American Downhiller vest back for this week at least. Hopefully next week my teammates are knocking at the door with me. I’d be proud to hand it off to the next guy or hold onto it for another week.” 
  • Weibrecht was flagged off course yesterday, but ended up grabbing some World Cup points in DH with a 24th place finish. But today’s Warhorse’s day. He loves Super G and he’ll rip. As Head Coach Sasha Rearick recently told Ski Racing, “Weibrecht has been skiing better and better the last three years, more consistent…In the last three years, he’s probably won run three, four and five – now he’s winning run one and two.” As Rearick noted, Weibrecht has fine-honed his inspection skills, and is better able to anticipate speed and terrain factors. He’s also skiing much more compactly and balanced than in years past, mitigating his tendency for the highlight-reel-worthy recoveries for which “Warhorse” has been known throughout his career. 
  • See what Nyman had to say after his first World Cup downhill of the season. He tied for 16th, among his best finishes at Lake Louise…not too shabby, and he can only build from there! 
  • World Cup newcomer Drew Duffy is the reigning Super G National Champion (remember when he snuck in front of Nyman at U.S. Alpine Champs in Sugarloaf last season?!)…and now that he’s got his first race jitters out of the way, it’ll be fun to see how he progresses through the season with the big dogs. Former teammates Ronnie and Bryce are – no doubt – watching from above. 

Who’s in the Hunt: Simply put, the Attacking Vikings. Aksel Lund Svindal (19) has won the Super G World Cup on five occasions and is looking to surpass Hermann Maier in winning a record sixth crystal globe in this discipline. Svindal has won 12 World Cup races in the Super G, second most behind Maier, who has won double the amount of races (24). He’s fresh off the big W yesterday, and he’s full of confidence. But the target’s on his back from his own teammate - literally, because Kjetil Jansrud (20) will start immediately after Svindal. Jansrud made some mistakes in yesterday’s downhill and that’s bound to fuel him for today. In Copper at the start of downhill training last week, I may have told Jansrud he was a Norwegian God on skis…to which Svindal replied, “Geez, I’m gone for a year, and a lot has changed!” I do believe he proved yesterday that he’s back and he’s the still the boss. Jansrud won last year’s Super G. Watch him today. That’s all I got. I’m just talking about those Norwegians today.

Ski In Peace, 

Megan

World Cup Notes 28.11.15 | The Speed (and Slalom) Edition

Megan Harrod

What an exciting, yet heartbreaking day yesterday, huh?!

Mikaela Shiffrin was en route to becoming the first woman to win at Aspen since Tamara McKinney in 1981. She could almost taste the victory…maintaining a strong lead the entire way down, with a .68 lead at the last split before leaning in and crashing just a few gates from the finish. That’s ski racing, folks. You win some, you lose some. And the most insightful thing I heard Mikaela say yesterday is that she’s working to find the balance between taking risks and playing it safe…she’s finding another gear and you can tell. To say she’s skiing well is an understatement. She’s crushing. Congrats to Lara Gut, who snagged a great victory.

The Scoop: Let’s talk about today. It was snowing this morning in Aspen and the visibility wasn't superb, but the sun is shining bright now and it is shaping up to be a gorgeous day here. Great news is that Women’s Head Tech Coach Brandon (aka Richard) Dyksterhouse set the course for run number 1. This is a big deal, and a big advantage for the Americans. Keep in mind that these ladies trained on this track last Friday and therefore have an advantage. WOOHOOOOO, it’s the big show in Aspen today, let’s do it!

Over in Lake Louise, Head Men’s Coach Sasha Rearick told me last night, “The guys seem really relaxed and in a good place. I wished them only to enjoy racing on this perfect hill with best-in-lifetime-weather in Lake Louise.” Rad. I’m so stoked. Let’s get this downhill show on the road…

Aspen, Colorado - Women’s Slalom

  • 1st Run Start time: 10:15am MST. 2nd Run: 1:15pm.
  • U.S. Starters: Mikaela Shiffrin (bib #3), Resi Stiegler (19), Paula Moltzan (32) and fresh of a NorAm podium last week in Snow King, making her World Cup Debut…DRUM ROLL PLEASE…Lila Lapanja (bib 57).
  • Mikaela, the fierce competitor that she is, told me yesterday that she had a mental lapse at the bottom and let her focus shift slightly…but that it will never happen again. And I believe her when she makes that claim. Mikaela is a quick learner and you better believe she was studying video and reflecting last night. She wants the W today. When doesn’t she?! Love her focus and her determination. She’s an Olympic slalom champion, has three straight World Cup slalom titles, two straight World Championship slalom titles, 14 career World Cup slalom wins, and she’s only 20 years old. No time like crush time!
  • Resi will be making her debut on the World Cup after tearing her ACL and meniscus last year prior to Flachau. She had a successful return to snow prep period, and was 11th last year at Aspen. She’s stronger than ever, and I believe she can make a good bid for the top 10 today. She’s a free spirit. She’s a fierce chick. And the best word I could use to describe her, she’s a WARRIOR. Watch her go into battle today. Root for her.
  • Let’s talk about the rising stars: Paula is a Minnesota girl, so naturally I root for her. She’s strong and she’s the World Juniors Slalom Champ. I have a good feeling about seeing her in the flip for second run today. Lila, as I said, is making her World Cup debut…she’s the 2014 NorAm Slalom Champ and she’s an amazing young woman all-around. Cheer for her today!!
  • No American woman has finished in the top three during a World Cup race at Aspen since Julia Mancuso was third in 2011. What’s more, no American woman has won at this venue since Tamara McKinney in 1981. Bill Johnson was crowned victor in 1984, but we’re talking about the ladies today…and it’s been since 1981.

The Course Report, Post Inspection Run 1: First time we’ve seen a single-pole slalom in FIS Alpine World Cup history. Keep it simple, folks. Me likey. It’s all about brevity for Head Coach Paul Kristofic, who simply says the snow is “MONEY!” Course set is fairly similar to what these girls trained on this very track last week. There’s a combination over the last pitch, but it’s not anything these ladies haven’t seen before. And the track is niiiiiiiiiiice. Buff, grippy, money. Seriously, it’s a perfect day for slalom here at Assssspen.

Who’s in the Hunt:
Frida Hansdotter (bib 1) battled with Mikaela last season for the title, and Mikaela came out on top. She was second here last year, and I think she can rip. Sarka Strachova of the Czech Republic is up bib 2. I have an affinity for Sarka – she’s a great gal, and a beautiful skier…and I used to live in Prague, so I just like her. DOBRA! Veronika Velez Zuzulova (4) will make a strong bid for the top 5. “Zuzu” has a good starting position, and her coach sets run number 2. This could bode well for her. Check out Nina Loeseth (lucky number 7), who had a rippin’ second run yesterday in GS and then I am going to say keep an eye on these two Canadians: Erin Mielzynski (8) and Marie-Michele Gagnon (11). Gagnon (aka “Mitch) is dating Ganong (yes, our own Travis…and yes, their names are that similar) and they’ll both be sending each other positive “ski fast” vibes today.

DOWNHILL DAY in Lake Louise!!

  • GO time: 11:30 MST
  • U.S. Starters: Travis Ganong (bib 11), Steven Nyman (14), Marco Sullivan (24), Andrew Weibrecht (35), Wiley Maple (52), Bryce Bennett (58), and last but certainly not least…Super G National Champion and fresh face on the World Cup circuit, Drew Duffy (60). No rookie haircuts there, folks, but you’re going to want to follow Duffy this season.
  • Check this out. A new friend named George Thomas has been taking a peek into the mind of Steven Nyman. Awesome. These #AmericanDownhillers have been skiing consistently fast in training, with Nyman and Ganong consistently at the top this week. Will this be the year of the #AmericanDownhiller, though?! We will see.
  • Marco Sullivan has been skiing better than Rearick has seen him ski in his prep periods in a while. And he’s a veteran. Don’t count out Weibrecht, who Rearick also said has been skiing consistently fast first runs in training. Maple is back and feeling good, and keep an eye on Bennett and Duffy too.
  • During our Colorado camp at the U.S. Ski Team Speed Center in Copper, we had the chance to train with the Attacking Vikings, and the U.S. boys were right in there with them. Yeeeeeehaw!
  • Jared Goldberg and Ted Ligety will sit this weekend out and shift their focus towards Birds of Prey.

Who’s in the Hunt:
Two words, my friends: Attacking Vikings. They’re fast, they’re big and they’re HOT. Their skiing, that is. Aksel Lund-Svindal (20) and Kjetil Jansrud (17) have been consistently crushing this week’s training runs. Add to that duo the Canadian Erik Guay (10), who is back and healthy, and has proven that in training runs this week. Plus, he’s got that Canadian home soil advantage. I also am liking Adrien Theaux (12) and Guillermo Fayed (18).

TV Schedule (times EST):
Saturday, Nov. 28

1:30 p.m. - Men's DH, Lake Louise - NBC Live Extra - LIVE STREAM
3:30 p.m. - Women's SL, Aspen - NBCSN - LIVE
7:00 p.m. - Men's DH, Lake Louise - Universal HD

Sunday, Nov. 29
1:00 p.m. - Men's SG, Lake Louise - NBC Live Extra - LIVE STREAM
3:00 p.m. - Women's SL, Aspen, NBC - LIVE

I have the unicorn mask in my bag. Let’s make some magic happen today, shall we?!

Ski in Peace,

Megan

World Cup Notes 27.11.15 | Aspen Winternational Edition

Megan Harrod

Here we are again, my friends. It’s been far, far too long, right?! With Levi cancelled, we all got a momentto breathe. But it was just a short moment. Last week while in Copper Mountain we hosted our annual First Tracks celebration, including the Media Summit and official team naming announcement, along with NASTAR Pacesetting trials. It was a busy and fruitful week for all involved.

The team, including Lindsey Vonn, Mikaela Shiffrin and Ted Ligety, entertained the crowd with humorous interviews. “Cortina or Val d’Isere?” emcee Daron Rahlves asked Vonn. “Lake Louise,” Vonn responded. When emcee Chris Davenport tried to put Vonn on the spot, asking her what her favorite part of the movie “Dumb and Dumber” is, Vonn responded with an quote from the movie. “Aspen, where beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano,” she said through laughter.

And here we are today, in Asssssspen, where the beer flows like wine…and where the snow is lightly falling as the sun attempts to nudge its way through the clouds. It’s magical here. Really. And of course I wasn’t going to be able to get through this without quoting Dumb and Dumber. You’re welcome.

The Scoop: You may or may not know this, but Lindsey and Mikaela had the chance to train on this track last Saturday. Lindsey told me the snow was aggressive, but the training was great. What you also may or may not know is that, before Lindsey fractured her ankle in training this summer at New Zealand, Lindsey was skiing SMOKING HOT FAST giant slalom. If you recall, last year at Meribel during World Cup Finals after very little GS training, LV skied into a somewhat unexpected fifth place, which allowed her to sneak in front of teammate Mikaeala and secure a third overall, behind Austria’s Anna Fenninger and Slovenia’s Tina Maze. Shiffrin finished fourth overall on the season. Then, fast forward to Soelden, where LV arrived for return to snow after not skiing for 9 weeks. She arrived just two days before the race. It was still unknown whether or not she’d compete. She felt good though. No swelling. Anna was out with injury (very sad for the sport). You can’t help but think that LV, the fierce competitor she is, thought about the opportunity to grab some early season World Cup points. She took the training runs in the ice box, and word on the mountain is that she was 3 tenths ahead of the next fastest chick. In the end, she decided it would set her up for longer-term success if she sat it out. Good decision. Her skiing lately has looked really, really good, and she’s healthy and ready for the Colorado action today. THIS JUST IN: A little birdie tells me they watched Lindsey train GS at Vail yesterday…I hear she was close to GS great, Austria’s Marcel Hirscher, and she beat all of the other Austrians. DUDES. Just sayin’…

Here are some fun historical facts for you to chew on: No American has finished in the top three during a World Cup race at Aspen since Julia Mancuso was third in 2011. What’s more, no American has won at this venue since Tamara McKinney in 1981. We love Tamara, but I think it’s time to change the paradigm, whaddayasay, my friends?!

Check out the preview for this weekend’s Aspen Winternational.

Aspen, Colorado - Women’s GS

  • 1st Run Start time: 10:00 am MST. 2nd Run: 1:00pm.
  • U.S. Starters: Mikaela Shiffrin (bib #4), Lindsey Vonn (16) and Megan McJames (50). Mexico’s Sarah Schleper will come down, undoubtedly with a fierce flair at bib number 59.
  • Last night at the press conference Mikaela said it was a possibility we could see her face on the podium all three days this weekend. Last year she finished a disappointing sixth in GS after a little bobble. But, I still believe she’s got in her. Coming off of a solid second place finish at the Soelden season opener, Mikaela is feeling good and this is one of her favorite GS tracks. She’s said it’s like a roller-coaster ride. It’s technical, and she likes technical. Plus, she’s trained more on this track than any of her competitors and she’s a Colorado girl who loves this Colorado snow.
  • Guys. Here’s the deal. Lindsey is stronger than she’s been in a while and this is the first time in three years she’s healthy for Aspen. But she’s realistic too. She acknowledges that this is a hard track for her. But she’s stoked to kick off the season skiing giant slalom from the beginning, and she’s ready to grab some World Cup points that will help her in her quest to snag her 5th overall globe this season. No, she will not be skiing slalom this season. Yes, she will be skiing GS and the Combined. And though we’re all sad to see reigning World Cup overall champion Anna Fenninger out with a knee injury and Tina Maze taking the season off, we’re all very excited to see two Americans duke it out for the overall. I’m talking about Lindsey and Mikaela, of course.

The Course Report, Post Inspection Run 1: The course crew has done a fantastic job of preparing the track. Coach PK told the crew last night at the team meeting that the track is hard, compact snow. They injected the other day, and the snow will be aggressive like it was last weekend during training, but it will have grip. The course set is not straightforward, there are a few tricks, says Head Tech Coach Brandon Dyksterhouse. Of course it’s a technical track, so that’s the challenge here. There’s one gnarly slick right ski turn before the flats, but nothing these ladies can’t handle.

Who’s in the Hunt
With retirements and injuries, I’m sad to say it’s a watered down field here in Aspen. We will not see our own Julia Mancuso, who is out for the season opting to rehab her hip. On top of that, we’re missing Fenninger and Maze, and other faces that are missing this year are Kathrin Zettel, Dominique Gisin, Liz Goergl, and Jessica Lindell-Vikarby. But don’t count the other gals out. Federica Brignone (bib 1) out. She skied beautifully in Soelden. Almost perfect. She’s got that unmistakable Italian flair. Who else to watch? Viktoria Rebensburg (bib 2), Sara Hector (bib 3), Eva-Maria Brem (bib 5) - she won lastyear in Aspen, Tina Weirrather (bib 6)…and another feisty Italian, Nadia Fanchini (bib 7).  Only time will tell…

Over in Lake Louise…
While the women take on Aspen, the men’s speed team is braving the cold up in the north at Lake Louise. They tackled their first downhill training run Tuesday, with the Attacking Norwegian Vikings, Aksel Lund-Svindal and Kjetil Jansrud, leading the charge. Top Americans were Steven Nyman (Sundance, UT) in fifth, Travis Ganong (Squaw Valley, CA) in ninth and Marco Sullivan (Squaw Valley, CA) 21st. Yesterday Jansrud once again set the pace, but he's got an American Downhiller on his heels—Ganong finished in second, just .13 out, while Nyman finished ninth and Andrew Weibrecht (Lake Placid, NY) 23rd. The men’s action continues with the third and final downhill training run today before downhill day kicks off on Saturday followed by super G on Sunday.

Note: Jared Goldberg, one of my favorite athletes and people in general, will sit this weekend out. He left yesterday morning from Lake Louise to travel to Salt Lake and spend Thanksgiving with his family. As he mentioned on Instagram, he tweaked his back a couple of weeks ago and he’s having some low pack pain evaluated. He decided after training day 1 that it was best to head back and prep for Birds of Prey. Smart.

2015 Nature Valley Aspen Winternational TV Schedule (times EST)
Fri. Nov. 27 – 2:30 p.m. – Women’s Giant Slalom – UniHDLIVE *
Sat. Nov. 28 – 3:30 p.m. – Women’s Slalom – NBCSN – LIVE *
Sun. Nov. 29 – 3:00 p.m. – Women’s Slalom – NBC – LIVE *

* Live streaming coverage on NBC Sports Live Extra

Ski in Peace,

Megan

World Cup Notes 25.10.15 | The "Mr. GS is Back" Edition

Megan Harrod

WOW, what a day yesterday, huh?! Though we were unsure of how it would turn out with the injuries and retirements, it was definitely an exciting one! How about that?! A little dark horse action and Italian finesse from the one and only Federica Brignone. Beautiful, flawless skiing! Mikaela scored a 2nd and some key points towards her bid at the overall this year. As she mentioned in an interview after the race when asked about her and Lindsey duking it out for the top position, it’ll make for an exciting year for the Americans!

The Dude Soelden Scoop: I’d like to officially unveil the men’s #USTechNerds, the tech team’s answer to the badass #American Downhiller crew. The team’s vibe is great, and Ted’s at the helm. They carry a wiffle ball bat and balls around with them all season, go to colleges like Middlebury and Dartmouth, they’re entrepreneurs, they’re odd (in the best way possible). They ski powder in shin guards. They’re the #USTechNerds and check out the first edition of their #wiffleballchronicles…cheers to Ski Racing for joining us the other day as we tackled some unconventional dry land activities. As Ted mentioned all week, this race is kind of a mystery…no one knows who will come out on top. Only time will tell. In many ways, this is a testing ground…but it’s one that sets the tone for the season, so you better believe these guys will be throwing down.

Soelden, Austria - Men's GS

  • 1st Run Start time: 9:30am CET. 2nd Run: 12:45pm.
  • U.S. Starters: Ted Ligety (bib #3), Tim Jitloff (10), Tommy Ford (30), Kieffer Christianson (42), Hig Roberts (45), and Nick Cohee (53).
  • Last year Ted “Mr. GS” Ligety (3rd in GS in 2015) had a rough go here as he bobbled just before the flats. He was the favorite to win, after having won three consecutive season openers at Soelden, including an unbelievable 2.75 second margin win in 2013. Austria’s powerhouse Marcel Hirscher was the one winning by crazy margins last year, though…do you guys remember The Hirscher Show at Garmisch, when he won by over 3 seconds?! Dang, brother. BUT GUESS WHAT?! Ted is feeling good. He’s in a better place mentally and physically than he was last year at this time, and as Head Coach Forest Carey said, “quite frankly, he’s hungry”. We all know Ted is a fierce competitor and has in insatiable appetite for the win.
  • Jit wants to break into the top 5 today. And he can if he skis like he knows how to ski. It’s time for full-on beast mode, Jit. He was skiing fast in training and hanging with Ted. He can make it happen. Tommy Ford, folks…he’s back. With some solid results on tour last year, TFord is ready to break into the top 15. He’s an arc’er and one of my personal favorite skiers—beautiful technique. Fluid. He told me Ted Ligety learned everything he knows from him. HA. Watch him.
  • Let’s talk about the young guys: Kieffer Christianson, Hig Roberts and Nick Cohee. Kieffer skied his first World Cup here two years ago, donning a rookie haircut and a whole lot o' excitement. He went out early and was bummed, but those nerves are gone now and he’s ready today. He told me this morning he slept better last night than he has before any World Cup start. He attributes that zen vibe to the Buddha teachings he read last night. He’s an awesomely odd kid and I’m cheering for him today.
  • THE ROOKIES! Two Americans will ski their very first World Cups today, and they'll do it—sadly— sans rookie haircuts: Hig Roberts and Nick Cohee. They’re great kids with great stories. Hig Roberts has taken an unconventional track to the U.S. Ski Team, as he was a successful university racer at Middlebury…then skyrocketed to the B Team this year. That’s special. Doesn’t happen often. He’s strong, he’s smart, and he’s got a little bit of a creepy pre-Movember mustache, but he’s trying. A for Effort. He’ll be one to keep an eye on this year. At 27-years-old Nick Cohee, a former – and very successful – University of Utah alpine ski racer and current Team Geronimo (independent) athlete, is one of the oldest rookies you’ll find. But he was STOKED to get the call from Sasha Rearick inviting him to join the crew, and his excitement is palpable. A genuinely great guy with a great story and he told me he has loved getting to hang with the team and staff this week.

The Course Report, Post Inspection Run 1: This is an American first run course set, my friends…by none other than the man, Head Coach Forest Carey. If you remember – dust off those summer cobwebs – Forest was Ted’s coach and now is Head Men’s Tech Coach as Ted has integrated into the team structure this season. That means this course will favor Ted. Duh. I caught up with Head Men’s Coach Sasha Rearick on the course, who told me this snow is the best he’s seen in a long, long time on the tour. It’s buff. It’s buttery. It’s Birds of Prey-like snow, and these guys are going to RIP.  Sasha also told me the Frenchies asked him if he told Forest where to put the gates, because the set looked like a Sasha Rearick set…rhythmical, technical…beautiful. A couple of cranking turns coming down on to the flats, so these guys will have to nail those…as you all know, this hill is unforgivable if you make a mistake going into the bottom flat.

Who’s in the hunt?
I’m not going to jinx this one with picks, but I’m going to tell you who to keep an eye on…hopefully we’ll get some dark horse action today too…

Marcel Hirscher – Bib #1 (1st in 2015 GS and Overall)
Fritz Dopfer – 2 (4th in 2015 GS)
Alexis Pinturault – 4 (2nd in 2015 GS)
Felix Neureuther – 6 (8th in 2015 GS)
Henrik Kristoffersen – 14 (6th in 2015 GS)
Kjetil Jansrud – 16  
Aksel Lund-Svindal – 17

Domestic TV Coverage:
Universal Sports Network – LIVE
Sunday, Oct. 25, 7:30 a.m. EDT

#WhatMakesAChamp LAST CHANCE…
Oh, and one more thing…inspired by the official U.S. Ski Team mascot Champ, the Team has kicked off a content series asking athletes about the moment they truly felt like a champion. Now, the question has been turned to YOU. Now through October 25 fans can enter the #WhatMakesAChamp contest for a chance to ski win a trip to Copper to ski with Ted Ligety inNovember. Check out Laurenne Ross and Alice McKennis, two of the #SpeedUnicorns, as they share what they think makes a champion.

Ski in Peace, and Ski ya later (that one’s a shout out to my Central Nation roots, and Brewster McVicker!)…in Levi!

The Vagablonde

World Cup Notes 24.10.15 | The Soelden White Christmas Morgen Edition

Megan Harrod

Now through the end of the season, I will post my daily World Cup Notes here for all to follow the journey...keep an eye out for a rebrand and some updates to delivery of information (digitally rather than via email). Open to feedback, as always! Enjoy the ride...


Last night's vibe: 'Twas the night before the White Circus Christmas, when all through the Zwieselstein condos, not a U.S. Ski Team member was stirring, not even a mouse…

Merry Christmas! That’s what it feels like today. Christmas morgen. Might come at no surprise to you all, but I woke up at 4:45am with insane amounts of energy and anticipation. Like a kid on Christmas morning. Welcome back to the Audi FIS Ski World Cup. Here we are again. It’s like no time has passed. But oh yes, yes it has. I shaved my head and went to India and vagablonded around the western United States while the team chased snow around the Southern Hemisphere, from New Zealand to Chile. Fast forward, and here we are…in Austria.

The Soelden Scoop: It’s been a great week in Soelden…some fresh snow, some good training, lots of sunshine (like always)…and voila – here we are on race day. Last night at our team meeting new Head Coach Paul Kristofic said, “Nothing else to say but clear head, strong heart…go like HELL.” Alpine Director Patrick Riml and Head Tech Coach Brandon Dyksterhouse chimed in, “Going to be fun. Battle. Let it rip.” It hasn’t been an ideal prep period (Mikaela’s been chasing snow around Europe, recently training at the Mölltaler Glacier), but it’s been good enough. Time to ski with no regret. Something special in the air, here, and I think it might have to do with Ronnie and Bryce looking down on us from ski heaven. They’re cheering for Mikaela and Megan today. Check out the preview for this weekend’s opener.

Soelden, Austria - Women’s GS

  • 1st Run Start time: 9:30am CET. 2nd Run: 12:45pm.
  • U.S. Starters: Mikaela Shiffrin (bib #5) and Megan McJames (50). And guess what, folks?! The mighty Team Mexico’s Sarah Schleper is back and ready to ROAR, coming in hot at bib 63.
  • If you recall, last year Mikaela won her first GS of her career here on the technical Soelden pitch, sharing the podium with Austrian Anna Fenninger, who went on to win the GS and overall globes. That was my first World Cup. And That. Was. Damn. Exciting. Let’s see if Mikaela’s recent focus on that fancy footwork will work wonders for her in the course too.
  • As you have all heard, Lindsey Vonn returned to snow on Thursday after nearly 10 weeks of healing an ankle fracture sustained in New Zealand while training, and though she felt good (and was skiing fast, if I might add) she decided she will sit Soelden out and shift her focus to return-to-snow training and getting strong for Aspen, site of the 2017 World Cup Finals, and Lake Louise.
  • Vonn and Shiffrin ought to make it an exciting season, as they were 3rd and 4th, respectively, in the overall last year behind Fenninger, who will unfortunately sit the season out after falling and injuring her knee the other day in training. This is definitely a hit for the sport, and we’ll miss Anna. To my Austrian friends…sending good vibes to Anna – hope she heals up fast.  

The Course Report, Post Inspection Run 1: If you know anything about this track, you know that it’s among the most challenging GS tracks on the women’s circuit. And this track is SLICK today folks, slicker than last year for sure. But the course set is straightforward and Mikaela’s technical prowess on this steep, sustained pitch will benefit her. Only time will tell. T-19 minutes to be exact.

Who’s in the hunt? 71 racers will kick out of the start, and the Christine Feehan the Sage from Ski Racing informs me that only five of them have podiumed on this track before. With veterans Kathrin Zettel and Tina Maze retired (Maze temporarily, at least) and Fenninger out, this women’s field is fresh, my friends, and opportunity is in the air. Let’s see some dark horse action today, shall we?! Yes please. Keep an eye on Austrian veteran Eva-Maria Brem (4) - she was third in the Soelden opener last year and second in GS standings behind Fenninger. For today, I’m vibin' Sweden’s Sara Hector (6), Italy’s Federica Brignone (2)…she’s got that Italian flair and she’s fun to watch, Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg (1), and Switzerland’s Lara Gut (16) – the World Cup Rebel who made the switch from Rossi to Head this spring.

Domestic TV Coverage:
Universal Sports Network – LIVE
Saturday, Oct. 24, 6:30 a.m. EDT
Sunday, Oct. 25, 7:30 a.m. EDT

#WhatMakesAChamp?
Oh, and one more thing…inspired by the official U.S. Ski Team mascot Champ, the Team has kicked off a content series asking athletes about the moment they truly felt like a champion. Now, the question has been turned to YOU. Now through October 25 fans can enter the #WhatMakesAChamp contest for a chance to ski win a trip to Copper to ski with Ted Ligety in November.

Unicorn leggings on. Mask in the bag. Magic in the air. Let’s do this.

Ski in Peace…

The Vagablonde

World Cup Notes

Megan Harrod

Tall tales from the World Cup circuit coming soon. Like when the snow flies. So hold your horses and stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy el sol and my musings from sparkle countries across the world!

P.S. Don't you worry, they notes will be new and improved this season, with a better name! Shout if you have ideas.

They danced down the streets like dingledodies, and I shambled after as I've been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes, "AWWW!" — Jack Kerouac