Bennett leads American downhill effort at Birds of Prey
Local skiers Travis Ganong and Bryce Bennett continued to be among the fastest U.S. athletes as the International Ski Federation (FIS) Aspen Skiing World Cup wrapped up its latest stop in Beaver Creek, Colo.
It would be a frustrating three days of competition for the Americans with no skiers cracking the top 20 in downhill or super-G, and none in the top five in giant slalom.
The racing began on Friday, Dec. 1 with the first World Cup super-G at the Birds of Prey track since 2015.
The race would be won by Austria’s Vincent Kriechmayr, 26, with a time of 1 minute, 9.71 seconds for his first World Cup victory.
U.S. skiers struggled on the day with Andrew Weibrecht, 31, posting a 21st-place finish for the Americans’ best result. Squaw Valley skier, Ganong, 29, would finish in 33rd place with a time of 1:11.93. Also skiing out of Squaw, Bennett, 25, finished with the U.S.’s next fastest time at 1:12.43 for 46th place.
Competition continued the following day with men’s downhill where Norway’s Askel Lund Svindal picked up the win with a time of 1:40.46. The Americans were again far off the podium with Bennett leading the way in 21st place with a time of 1:42.11.
“I had a pretty good run,” Bennett said. “I had a couple mistakes, nothing major. Just a couple that cost me a little bit of speed. This is my second or third time racing this hill, so I’m trying to learn the hill some more. It’s improvement.”
The result makes it two weeks in a row Bennett has finished in 21st place at a World Cup downhill.
Ganong would tie for 30th with Utah’s Jared Goldberg with times of 1:42.55.
Racing concluded on Sunday, Dec. 3, with the giant slalom where the U.S. finished with their best performance of the three days.
Veteran Ted Ligety, 33, picked up his best finish in a World Cup race since Oct. 23, 2016, with a total time of 2:38.66 for seventh place. Austria’s Marcel Hirscher, 28, took first with a total time of 2:37.30.
Women’s World Cup skiing continued its calendar with a stop at Lake Louise, Alberta, last weekend.
Austria’s Cornelia Huetter, 25, won the ladies’ downhill with a time of 1:48.53 to start three days of competition on Friday, Dec. 1.
Vail’s Mikaela Shiffrin, 22, was the top American, finishing in third place with a time of 1:48.83.
Stacey Cook, 33, who grew up in Truckee, finished the race in 11th place with a time of 1:49.86.
Downhill racing continued the following day where Shiffrin posted a time of 1:27.55 to claim first place. Cook was the next fastest American with a time of 1:28.16 for sixth place.
After crashing in the first day of racing, Vail’s Lindsey Vonn posted her first finish of the season with a 12th place. Vonn would crash again during Sunday’s super-G.
Shiffrin would again lead the U.S. with a time of 1:19.36 for a fifth-place finish in super-G on Sunday, Dec. 3. Shiffrin has finished in the top five in each of her World Cup races this season. Super-G was won by Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather with a time of 1:18.52. Cook finished in 32nd with a time of 1:20.98.
Two other local women competed at FIS events last week at Copper Mountain Resort. Carnelian Bay’s AJ Hurt, 17, followed up her first World Cup appearance by topping more than 60 athletes for a pair of first-place finishes in super-G races on Nov. 29. Hurt would go on to race giant slalom on Dec. 1-2, but failed finish both races.
Truckee’s Maureen Lebel, 19, took a fourth place in super-G on Nov. 29, and an 18th in giant slalom on Dec. 1.
Vail Daily Staff Reporter Chris Freud contributed to this report. Staff Writer Justin Scacco can be reached at 530-550-2643 or via email at email@example.com