Weibrecht 5th in Birds of Prey downhill; Travis Ganong 12th | SierraSun.com

Weibrecht 5th in Birds of Prey downhill; Travis Ganong 12th

Melanie Wong
mwong@vaildaily.com

BEAVER CREEK — Starting in the 34th position, American Andrew Weibrecht was not skiing from an advantageous spot in the line up. However, the fact that he ended up in fifth place on Friday's downhill shouldn't have shocked anyone, as he's known for risky performances and surprising underdog finishes. That's how he earned the nickname the "War Horse," after all — for fighting hard when things get tough.

Weibrecht got a slower start, but then steadily gained time as he proceeded down the course. By the time he blazed into the finish area and turned to look at his result, the crowd was screaming and cheering. He tied for the fifth spot with Switzerland's Carlo Janka, with a time of 1 minute, 43.31 seconds. It is his best career downhill finish at Beaver Creek.

"I was definitely hanging it out. A couple times I didn't know if maybe I gave away too much, or risked a little to much, but I guess it was right in there," said Weibrecht.

"I skied the way I wanted to all the way down, and that's what matters to me."

The Lake Placid, New York, native finished in the top 30 in both downhill and super-G last week at Lake Louise, Alberta, scoring him World Cup points. The result at Beaver Creek is a big confidence booster for his season, he said.

"It's just nice to get a good solid result at the beginning of the season. To be in the top 10 in one of the first three races is great," he said. "I risked a lot today and let it run. To come through and get that good a result early in the season is incredible."

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Ganong, Nyman disappointed

Teammates Travis Ganong and Steven Nyman were denied a top-10 finish, coming in 12th and 15th respectively.

Ganong struggled with the course conditions, which he said were much icier and faster than during the training days. Coming into the Pumphouse section of the course, he turned toward the gate too early and had to skid sideways to correct his line, losing precious time.

"It was really tough today. It was a lot slicker. It was icy, pretty fast and totally different from the training runs. I never really adjusted," said Ganong. "It was a wild ride. I definitely missed the timing in a couple places. I got pushed off line and had to make these little adjustments — that's not fast."

On Saturday, he'll be looking to redeem the weekend at the super-G, an event where he tied for fourth at Lake Louise.

"I can't wait to go again tomorrow," he said. "It would be fun to get another good super-G result."

Nyman was looking to improve on his training runs and take more risks, but ended up with a handful of mistakes that cost him.

"I started risking it and threw it down the hill. I had to check stop halfway down Pete's Arena because I went too direct. That was a bummer there," he said. "At Harrier, I thought I nailed it, but when I landed I lost my (footing) a little bit."

Missed gates and milestones

Marco Sullivan of Squaw Valley skied off course early on in the course at a gate that he'd also missed in training (and incidentally, one that many other skiers had missed in training as well). He called it a "rookie move."

"On the flat section right before Golden Eagle, there's just a quick gate with a roll right in front of it. If you're set up for it, it's really not a big deal, but I came in a little bit late and just got kind of twisted. Before I knew it I was off by the gate in the blink of an eye. It was a mistake on my part and just a bummer to go out on a relatively easy section."

Squaw Valley skier Bryce Bennett finished 29th to earn his first World Cup points, and Gared Goldberg was 31st.

"I was nervous all day — just scared to commit to my line," Bennett said. "I knew it would be a fast one. I haven't scored World Cup points yet and that has been something I've wanted to do — almost too much. But if you committed to the course, it was perfect and you could just pipe turns. I had a few mistakes, but I just put everything into it.

"It was good to get a reward. I am able to compete with these guys and I can put runs down. All summer I've been just chipping away, chipping away, chipping away. It was bound to come, but it was good to confirm it. It's going to be even better moving on."

— The U.S. Ski Team contributed to this report.