Recapping the last World Cup ski races to be held in the US this season, the Birds of Prey at Beaver Creek over the weekend– There was universal praise for the course preparation work done there, that overcame overly warm weather and a lack of natural snow. The race results went like this…
In the final event, Sunday’s giant slalom, Austrian Marcel Hirscher showed everyone the ankle he broke in the off-season wasn’t going to slow him down. After a first run where he ran 3rd behind American rival Ted Ligety in 2nd, Hirscher charged in the 2nd run to take his 46th World Cup win, in a total time of 2 minutes, 37.3 seconds. Norwegian Henrik Kristoffersen came 2nd, followed by German Stefan Luitz in 3rd place. Ligety was the top US finisher in 7th.
In Saturday’s highest-speed event, the always-popular downhill, Norwegian Aksel Lund Svindal came back after a knee injury of almost 2 years ago, to stand atop the podium. He started first and scorched the beaver Creek downhill in a minute, 40.46 seconds, and that held up for the win. Only 15 hundredths of a second behind was Switzerland’s Beat Fuez in 2nd place, and German Thomas Dressen started 10th, but went fast to finish 3rd. That was Germany’s first men’s downhill podium in 13 years.
And Friday’s Super-G was taken by Austrian Vincent Kriechmayr, chalking up his first World Cup win in a time of a minute, 9.71 seconds. 2nd, only 23 hundredths back, went to Norways’ Kjetil Jansrud, and Kriechmayr’s Austrian teammate Hannes Reichelt was only a tenth of a second further behind to come in 3rd. Kriechmayr’s win came exactly 12 years after Reichelt got his first Cup win at the Beav, too. Reichelt joked that only shows you he’s old now, at 37.
Why aren’t we talking about the Americans? Because they had a bad weekend on the supposedly-friendly home snow. Beaver Creek named parts of the downhill course for past champions Daron Rahlves and Bode Miller over the weekend, but no American could get close to their accomplishments. All the US racers struggled, according to observers. The weekend’s best finish was Ted Ligety’s 7th in the giant slalom. Other than that, the US got no better than 21st in the downhill and super-G.
This coming weekend, the World Cup men will be running slalom and GS in Jean-Claude Killy’s hometown, Val d’Isere, France.
How about the American who’s not struggling at all? That’s Eagle-Vail’s Mikaela Shiffrin, who had a huge weekend at Lake Louise, Alberta Canada. Friday, in only her 3rd downhill start, the 22-year-old did well, skiing to a 3rd place in the opening speed event of the women’t season. Respectable, since the defending overall World Cup champ would have to pick up a few Cup points in the disciplines other than her slalom specialty to defend the title. Well, she’s jumped WAY out front, because Shiffrin torched the course Saturday, to do what many thought she never would- she WON her first downhill! And she had a decent winning margin– not the full seconds she puts between herself and the field in slalom– but in the downhill, where you’re talking 70 to 80 miles an hour, 13 hundredths of a second over the woman rapidly becoming Mikaela’s arch-rival, German Viktoria Rebensburg, is a solid win. And Rebensburg’s expanding her horizons, too. She’s a GS specialist, so this was her first downhill podium. Shiffrin now leads her in the overall Cup standings by 149 points. What of Lindsey Vonn? The all-time winningest World Cup woman didn’t have her best weekend. She fell and didn’t finish that first downhill Friday, then last year’s injured knee flared up to give her trouble Saturday, and Lindsey finished 12th.
Other news– One of the season’s first recreational on-mountain deaths happened Saturday morning at the Monarch Ski Area. The Chaffee County Sheriff’s office says 23-year-old Collin Zak of Ohio, a member of the US military, had been wearing a helmet when he hit a tree on the expert Mirage run. Patrollers who found Zak unresponsive tried CPR, but weren’t able to revive him.
A district court judge says there’s probable cause for a trial to move ahead, with 3 felony charges including vehicular homicide lodged against 37-year-old David Cavaliere. Police say he was driving the SUV that hit a pair of motorcyclists, killing both young men, Nathan Russo and Eduardo Medrano, in a Silt roundabout in March of this year.
And there’ll be a hearing in Garfield County Court this afternoon, at which former Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts Director Christina Brusig will enter her plea to a misdemeanor theft charge. The DA’s office is alleging that Brusig may have misappropriated funds belonging to the center, before her resignation at the end of April. The charge was first made last month, after an extensive investigation.