Squaw Valley’s Travis Ganong raced to his best finish of the season last weekend at one of the World Cup’s most iconic North American stops, the Xfinity Birds of Prey in Beaver Creek, Colorado.
Ganong posted the fastest time of any U.S. skier to open Birds of Prey, which features three days of racing and includes super-G, downhill, and giant slalom.
The 31-year-old Squaw Valley skier raced to a sixth-place finish under pristine conditions during Friday’s super-G race, posting a time of 1 minute, 11.59 seconds.
“I just really had a fun and enjoyable run,” said Ganong in an interview with U.S. Ski & Snowboard. “The snow was perfect — it was money, the Talon Crew did an awesome job preparing the track as always!”
Swiss skier Marco Odermatt, 22, took first place with a time of 1:10.90.
“Anyone can win a super-G, it’s about who is willing to take the most risk and pull it off, watching Odermatt — he took way too much risk, but somehow it worked out for him and that’s tough to beat,” said Ganong in an interview with U.S. Ski & Snowboard. “That’s on the limit super-G, and that’s what’s fast.”
Saturday’s downhill event was held under gusty conditions on a shortened course. Vermont skier Ryan Cocran-Siegle, 27, skied to the fastest time during the only training run, and then went on to post a career-best sixth place, leading the U.S. with a time of 1:13.47. Swiss racer and two-time defending downhill champion, Beat Feuz, 32, won the event with a time of 1:12.98.
Squaw’s Bryce Bennett, 27, finished in 39th place with a time of 1:14.73. Ganong finished 0.03 seconds behind Bennett to claim 40th place.
“While today didn’t go as planned, I’m super fired up with the beginning of the season here in North America and know that I have speed heading into the next races in Italy,” said Ganong in an Instagram post. “Fired up to currently be ranked 14th in the early season overall rankings (8th SG, 18th DH). Time to head home to (Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows) for some powder skiing the next days!!!!”
Neither Squaw Valley skier competed in Sunday’s round of giant slalom. Oregon’s Tommy Ford, 30, picked up his first career World Cup victory, taking first place in the event by 0.80 seconds with a total time of 2:31.25.
The World Cup will next head to Val d’Isere, France this weekend for giant slalom and slalom racing. Competitors will then head to Val Gardena, Italy the following weekend for super-G and downhill racing.
Women take on Lake Louise
The women’s alpine World Cup circuit traveled to Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada last weekend for two rounds of downhill and a round of super-G.
Squaw’s Keely Cashman, 20, posted the top time of any local competitor in Friday’s downhill event, finishing in 39th place with a time of 1:35.37. Another skier representing Squaw Valley Ski Team, Alix Wilkinson, 19, was 45th with a time of 1:36.37. North Tahoe’s AJ Hurt, 19, posted the fastest first split time, according to U.S. Ski & Snowboard, before crashing hard. Hurt is reported to be OK, but sat out the following day’s downhill event.
Czech skier, Ester Ledecka, 24, won Friday’s downhill race with a time of 1:31.87. Three-time defending World Cup overall champion, Mikaela Shiffrin, 24, led the U.S. with a time of 1:32.83 to take 10th place.
Shiffrin again led the U.S. in Saturday’s downhill event, finishing in second place with a time of 1:50.05. Cashman improved to 37th place with a time of 1:53.58, while Wilkinson posted the fastest time among local skiers, finishing in 1:52.91 to take 33rd place. Austria’s Nicole Schmidhofer, 30, took first with a time of 1:49.92.
None of area’s skiers took part in Sunday’s super-G race. Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg, 30, was first with a time of 1:20.00. Shiffrin led the U.S. with a time of 1:21.18 to claim 10th place.
The women’s World Cup tour will head to St. Moritz, Switzerland this weekend for super-G and parallel slalom racing.
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at email@example.com or 530-550-2643.