Squaw Valley’s Travis Ganong leads U.S. team in ‘gnarly’ downhill
SANTA CATERINA, Italy — Squaw Valley skier Travis Ganong and his U.S. teammates tackled one of the most challenging downhill tracks on the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup circuit Tuesday, where just making it to the finish line was a victory.
“There’s been lots of action, lots of crashes, lots of crazy stuff,” Ganong said after leading the U.S. Ski Team in 17th place. “I would say this is one of the toughest hills we ski. It’s really hard. It’s like Sochi on the top and Bormio on the bottom — super dark, bumpy, super fast speeds. It’s a real-deal downhill. It’s a gnarly, gnarly hill — the after-Christmas wake-up call.”
Adrien Theaux of France won his third career World Cup downhill on the dark, bumpy track. Hannes Reichelt of Austria was second and was followed by David Poisson of France in third.
World Cup downhill leader Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway finished seventh and moved into the overall World Cup leaded by 15 points over Marcel Hirscher of Austria, who did not race Tuesday’s downhill.
For the Americans, it was a challenging day.
Steven Nyman finished 26th, Jared Goldberg was 33rd; Bryce Bennett of Squaw Valley was 37th and fellow Squaw Valley skier Marco Sullivan was 42nd. Andrew Weibrecht was having a good run before the track got the best of him.
“I hit a bump wrong and it just squatted me,” Weibrecht said of his DNF. “I started to get a little tired, but it wasn’t bad. I think it was a potentially bad situation and I got lucky.”
Weibrecht, however, did find a bright side to his skiing today: “It was nice to ski well today; I’m happy about that. It’s such a weird course — it’s unlike anything we ever ski. There’s no rhythm. It’s bumpy and dark. It reminds me a lot of the Val d’Isere World Championships course or the Sochi Olympic downhill — same kind of half turns and nastiness.”
Likewise, Ganong was happy with how he skied despite a mistake that may have cost him a top-five finish.
“I had an amazing run. I had a huge mistake on the bottom and I’m still only two seconds out,” Ganong said. “I definitely pushed hard. That big mistake on the bottom cost me top five, probably. I’m only two seconds out, so I’m pretty happy with my skiing.”
Up next, the men’s tech team will compete in slalom in Santa Caterina on Jan. 6, while the speed team will head to Wengen, Switzerland, from Jan. 12-17 for a pair of downhill events.