Marco Sullivan fifth in Lake Louise downhill
LAKE LOUISE, Alberta — Squaw Valley skier Marco Sullivan was the American to watch in Saturday’s World Cup downhill opener in Lake Louise, as he held the top step of the podium for 13 racers before finally finishing fifth.
“I love starting here at Lake Louise. It’s a nice break-in race,” said Sullivan, who posted his best finish in two seasons, since landing on the podium in Lake Louise in 2012. “It’s not the most difficult track we have and you can just go full-guns from start to finish. It’s high intensity to get the race season going.
“I’ve had good success here in the past and I have confidence. I’m one of the veteran guys and I’m comfortable racing these days. My body feels good. Nothing is holding me back.”
Wednesday’s training run-winner, Kjetil Jansrud of Norway, squeaked out a first-place finish ahead of Manuel Osborne-Paradis and Guillermo Fayed, who tied for second.
In addition to Sullivan, two other Squaw Valley skiers were among the six U.S. starters, including Travis Ganong and Bryce Bennett. Ganong, who is coming off a solid season and his first Olympics, tied for 10th, while Bennett was 56th. Steve Nyman placed 16th, Wiley Maple 22nd and Jared Goldberg 35th.
“It was a good team day,” said U.S. head coach Sasha Rearick. “Great to see Sparky — old Marco Sullivan — bring out the ol’ fire…charging down the mountain. It was really sweet. Skied well too. Great to see Travis pump in there with a good time; skied really well at the bottom down from coaches to the bottom of Gun Barrel. Really good skiing.”
Ganong 21st in super G
Olympic medalist Andrew Weibrecht led the U.S. team with a 20th-place finish in Saturday’s super G, while Ganong finished one place back in 21st.
Jansrud, meanwhile, the Oympic super G champion, followed up his downhill win Friday with another victory to sweep the opening two speed races.
Ganong raced to 21st despite a top-of-course mistake that literally had him sideways and nearly stopped.
“I think I was winning the top split, but then I stuck my head into a panel just before the jump and got all twisted up,” Ganong said. “Both top buckles on my left boot came off, my goggles were crooked and I lost my pole. I lost another second and a half there.
“I’m happy with my skiing, but there was that one big mistake that held me back. All things considered, you just have to send it and push hard. It’s the only way to ski race.”
Goldberg was 25th, Nyman 29th and Bennett 56th. Sullivan and Thomas Biesemeyer did not finish their first runs.
The men’s tour now heads to Beaver Creek, Colo., for the Audi Birds of Prey Race Week.
Shiffrin leads U.S. women
ASPEN, Colo. — Olympic gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin recorded a fifth- and sixth-place finish in the opening World Cup slalom races at the Nature Valley Aspen Winternational in Colorado this past weekend.
Shiffrin skied a gutsy second run to salvage her sixth place on Friday. She won the first run Saturday but overskied the second run to drop to fifth.
Austria’s Eva-Maria Brem won over teammate Kathrin Zettel on Friday. Nicole Hosp of Austria took the win on Saturday.
Olympic gold medalist Julia Mancuso of Squaw Valley skied out in her first run Friday, while Megan McJames and Anna Marn failed to qualify for the second run. On Saturday, Resi Stiegler attacked from the back to grab 11th place.
The women’s speed team will head to Lake Louise for downhill and super G races. The tech team does not race until Dec. 13 in Courchevel, France.