Travis Ganong speeding into 2009-10 season |

Travis Ganong speeding into 2009-10 season

Photo © Mike SchirfSquaw Valley skier Travis Ganong, shown training at Copper Mountain last November, will compete against Tommy Ford for the final U.S. Menand#8217;s starting slot in Saturdayand#8217;s season-opening World Cup downhill at Lake Louise.

The clock doesn’t lie. So when Travis Ganong began speeding through downhill training runs in fewer seconds than the big-names on the U.S. Ski Team, his coaches couldn’t help but reward his efforts.

Their reward: A chance for him to prove those times were legit and#8212; and if they were, his first World Cup start in the season-opening downhill Saturday at Lake Louise (Alberta, Canada).

and#8220;He was skiing really well in Colorado last week, and so the invitation was extended to him to continue to train with the team in Lake Louise,and#8221; said Sasha Rearick, head coach of the U.S. Men’s Alpine Ski Team. and#8220;He will have to qualify for a downhill starting spot here, but he’s earned the right to go for it.and#8221;

Ganong, a 21-year-old, four-event skier out of Squaw Valley USA, will compete head-to-head against Tommy Ford for the men’s final starting slot in Saturday’s downhill. The available slot will be determined after Friday’s training run, Rearick said.

Coming off a season that Ganong concedes was not his strongest, he said he’s surprised himself lately with his speedy times in training.

and#8220;I had no idea I was skiing so fast,and#8221; said Ganong, who used to be on the U.S. Ski Team’s C Team but is now training as an invitee. and#8220;I just showed up and skied my runs and felt pretty good. And then I saw the times afterward, and they were really fast.and#8221;

If Ganong bests Ford for the final starting spot, he will have to finish among the top 30 in Saturday’s downhill to record World Cup points. If he were to accomplish that goal, he said there’s a chance of being placed on the United States’ World Cup Team, as opposed to the Europa Cup Team on which he normally competes.

and#8220;It’s amazing. I’m excited,and#8221; said Ganong, who was in town for a brief visit this past week. and#8220;I really rededicated myself throughout the summer to ski racing, and got stronger, and everything seems like it’s working out now. It’s great to get an opportunity to do something like this.and#8221;

Ganong said he switched skis over the summer, from Volkl to Atomic, and trained when he was home at the Tahoe Forest Hospital Center for Sports Performance. When he got on snow for training, the results followed.

and#8220;Over the summer I started skiing really fast again and was invited to train with the (U.S. Ski Team). And then during the training I was beating everybody. So they decided to give me a chance to race the World Cup,and#8221; he said.

and#8220;I really don’t have any expectations,and#8221; Ganong continued. and#8220;This is totally a bonus to my season. I’m just going to have fun with it.and#8221;

Rearick said besides Ganong’s natural abilities on a race course, it was his hard work that earned him an invitation to train alongside the top dogs on the U.S. Men’s squad, including fellow Squaw Valley product Marco Sullivan.

and#8220;We know Travis has excellent potential, so we invited him to train with the U.S. Ski Team through our summer prep period. One of the things he really needed to do was work on his conditioning, and he did just that,and#8221; Rearick said.

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