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,