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…
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,