Alpine ski racing: U.S. men primed for Birds of Prey | SierraSun.com

Alpine ski racing: U.S. men primed for Birds of Prey

Megan Harrod
U.S. Ski Team

BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — The sun has been shining on the famous Birds of Prey downhill track the last two days, but don't be mistaken — it has been cold and the conditions have been perfect. With some of the steepest pitches, the most difficult terrain and the biggest air on the World Cup circuit, this course is tough.

Ask any nation and they'll tell you they love it here at Birds of Prey. That buttery smooth, grippy Colorado snow makes the hill that much better — thanks, in part, to the Talon Crew. They've done an impeccable job preparing the course after Mother Nature dumped 21 inches of fresh snow over the last week, and they're ready for some world-class ski racing.

But before diving into racing, the U.S. team is on home turf and the guys have the opportunity to connect with their hometown fans and do things like school visits to nearby Homestake Peak School in Vail.

The pre-K to eighth-graders "oohed" and "aahed" over the crashes and big air in the highlight reel as well as the advice by Squaw Valley skiers Marco Sullivan and Bryce Bennett, as well as U.S. teammate Nolan Kasper.

"Surround yourself with good people that can inspire you every day," Sullivan advised. "I'm pulling for my teammates because when my teammates do well, it inspires me. We're all we have over there. We're a family. It's us against Europe."

Training run No. 1 kicked off Wednesday. Excitement was in the air as Bode Miller was the POV forerunner, grabbing footage for Eurosport and NBC. Miller will be announcing this weekend for NBC, alongside Dan Hicks.

Recommended Stories For You

When asked about whether or not he'll make a career out of it, Miller replied, "I am comfortable [with announcing for NBC]. I've done so much talking and I'm comfortable with my knowledge base on skiing, so there are no surprises there and nothing new for me. For me, whether I pursue it further would depend on how I felt about the relationship with Dan Hicks, and the banter. If it's fun then I would do it. But it's not really in me to do things that I don't really enjoy and find exciting and fun. So if it's work, then don't expect to see me again."

The Attacking Viking, Norwegian Kjetil Jansrud, came out on top on the first training day, with Switzerland's Carlo Janka in second and Germany's Josef Ferstl in third. The top American was Steven Nyman, who tied for 11th. Jared Goldberg was 26th, Bennett 28th and Andrew Weibrecht 29th.

Travis Ganong of Squaw Valley, who was third and fourth in the Lake Louise downhill and super G, respectively, did some experimenting and ended up in 38th, but looks forward to Friday.

"I'm feeling pretty good," Ganong said. "This is our first look at the hill today, so it's really important to check out the hill and see what the timing is like and build from there. I have high expectations, but I'm just going to focus on the little things and it will all take care of itself."

So, why is this course so special? While standing in the finish, Nyman shared with journalists what he remembers most about this course after snagging third on this track last year.

"It's just always cool because you're just flying, landing and gunning for the next jump," he said. "It's just active movement the whole way down. That's what I remember and what I always love, and what I'm excited to get back to here."

Bennett came down with the largest smile on his face, and simply stated, "That was fun. I love downhill." He, along with teammate Goldberg, have been putting some fast runs down, and Bennett has a good chance for a breakthrough performance this weekend.

Along with Friday's opening downhill, Beaver Creek will host a super G on Saturday and GS on Sunday, where Ted Ligety will be going for a historic six straight wins on the Birds of Prey GS track.

Birds of Prey TV, live streaming schedule

Friday

9:30 a.m., Men’s DH, Beaver Creek, NBCSN – LIVE

9:30 a.m., Men’s DH, Beaver Creek, NBC Live Extra

Saturday

10:00 a.m., Men’s SG, Beaver Creek, NBCSN – LIVE

10:00 a.m., Men’s SG, Beaver Creek, NBC Live Extra

Sunday

10:00 a.m., Women’s SG, Lake Louise, NBC Live Extra

2:00 p.m., Men’s GS, Beaver Creek, NBC and NBC Live Extra

Pacific Standard Times

Birds of Prey Starters

Michael Ankeny – GS

Bryce Bennett – DH, SG

Tommy Biesemeyer – SG

David Chodounsky – GS

Tommy Ford – SG, GS

Travis Ganong – DH, SG

Jared Goldberg – DH, SG

Tim Jitloff – SG, GS

Ted Ligety – SG, GS

Steven Nyman – DH, SG

Marco Sullivan – DH

Andrew Weibrecht – DH, SG, GS