Squaw Valley’s Travis Ganong fifth in Birds of Prey downhill | SierraSun.com

Squaw Valley’s Travis Ganong fifth in Birds of Prey downhill

Sun Staff and U.S. Ski Team report
Squaw Valley skier Travis Ganong, shown in a training run at Beaver Creek, Colo., last season, finished fifth in the Birds of Prey Downhill on Friday.
Courtesy Jack Affleck / Vail Resorts |

BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — Squaw Valley skier Travis Ganong recorded a fifth-place finish and Steven Nyman placed third in the Audi Birds of Prey downhill in Beaver Creek, Colo., on Friday.

Kjetil Jansrud of Norway, who won both the super G and downhill in Lake Louise the previous week, earned another win while Beat Feuz of Switzerland finished second.

The notoriously well-prepped Audi Birds of Prey course looked fast on Friday, with light snow falling in the early morning, but clearing up in time for the first run. 

Seven Americans ran the downhill in total. Ted Ligety finished in 28th, Andrew Weibrecht 30th, Marco Sullivan of Squaw Valley 38th, Jared Goldberg 40th, Bryce Bennett of Squaw Valley 52nd and Tommy Biesemeyer 53rd.

The American crowd exploded when Nyman podiumed, but they were just as loud when Ganong came down in fourth place, eventually finishing in fifth overall.

“Once you get that momentum, it’s hard to stop. I’m hoping I snowball it in,” Ganong said. “I’ve actually been top 10 at every race since Kitzbuhel last year, so I’ve had good consistency there. Hopefully, I can step on top of the podium a couple times this year. I’d like to try for the overall in downhill. I’m a little ways off, but it’s not out of the question.”

Jitloff top 25 in super G

Tim Jitloff of Truckee was one of five American men who finished among the top 25 in the Audi Birds of Prey super G at Beaver Creek on Saturday.

Andrew Weibrecht led the charge with a 10th-place finish, while Hannes Reichelt of Austria snagged the victory and the seemingly unstoppable Jansrud made an unbelievable recovery to finish second. France’s Alexis Pinturault rounded out the podium in third.

The conditions on the Birds of Prey super G track were “money,” as every coach noted, however, the course set was fairly challenging at the top steeps before it opened up and was straight the rest of the way. There were a couple of big turns thrown into the mix, which threw a lot of guys off and kept the crowd on their feet with incredible recoveries.

Jitloff skied a solid race to record his 24th-place finish, which marked the first World Cup super G points of his career.

“It was nice to see. He skied the top more aggressively,” said U.S. men’s head Sasha Rearick.

Trailing Weibrecht was Ligety in 11th, Biesemeyer in 25th, Ganong in 28th, Jared Goldberg in 32nd, Bennett in 42nd and Nyman with a DNF.

Ligety wins GS, Jitloff 9th

Ligety destroyed the field in Sunday’s giant slalom to extend his winning streak at Beaver Creek to five consecutive years.

Ligety’s second run down the Birds of Prey piste will go down in legend, faster than Benni Raich, Alexis Pinturault and Marcel Hirscher. It was Ligety’s 23rd giant slalom win, matching famed Michael von Grünigen from Switzerland, one of his childhood heroes. Next on the hit list is Ingemar Stenmark, who has 46 wins.

“Any day you win a World Cup race is a good day, especially so on home soil — in front of the home crowd and friends and family,” said Ligety, who was just over two weeks removed from surgery on a fractured left wrist. “Second run was great. I was little frustrated after the first run; I didn’t ski the way I wanted to. The second run, I was able to find the groove a little better.”

It was a strong day overall for the U.S. Ski Team with two other men scoring World Cup points, including Jitloff, who improved from 11th after his first run to finish ninth. After a thrilling second run, slalom specialist David Chodounsky placed 17th.

“I didn’t want to come into the second run with the approach of, ‘I’ve got to do something special to get in the top 10,’” Jitloff said. “I just want to ski consistently, and the way I have been should be enough. As long as I continue with that kind of stable approach, I’ll be fine.”

Sugar Bowl skier Mark Engel started but did not finish his first run.