Ganong Seventh to Lead Three Americans in Garmisch Downhill
On a sunny, 50+ degree Fahrenheit day in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, Land Rover U.S. Alpine Ski Team athlete Travis Ganong was seventh to lead three into the points in a shortened Kandahar downhill—the final FIS Ski World Cup downhill prior to World Championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.
Italy’s Dominik Paris became the first Italian downhill victor on the Kandahar since 2013. Swiss Beat Feuz was second, .37 seconds off the pace, and Austria’s Matthias Mayer in third, .40 off the lead. Just 1.56 seconds separated the 15 fastest athletes, and a sizable mistake kept Ganong just off the podium, yet he ended up in a solid seventh place.
Despite warm temperatures, the organizers did an excellent job prepping the track and ensuring a safe and fair race could occur on Friday. Even so, crashes by Germany’s Josef Ferstl and France’s Brice Roger (they both thankfully skied down) caused lengthy course holds that affected the track and made it increasingly difficult for the higher bibs to throw it in there.
“It’s kinda crazy that I still have a top-10 result after a huge mistake like that today...but I really like this hill, and I really know this hill well. I’ve had a lot of success here...I hit that huge hole and scorpioned for a second, and thought I was going down, but somehow when I looked up I was still on line and I was able to get back in my tuck and keep going," Ganong reflected. "Men's downhill is so competitive, so I thought for sure my day was over. But, I just kept skiing and really started pushing harder and looking for my tuck everywhere I could, and pulled off some really good turns in the technical section on the bottom. I'm stoked with a seventh-place result...it's my best downhill result of the season, and gives me a little confidence going into Worlds, which is awesome."
With significantly less time on the speed set-up in the prep period this year due to COVID, many athletes lacked the time they needed to dial in their equipment. Ganong, like many others, has been experimenting with his set-up this season, and "There are two totally different boots that I've been playing around with, and I'm finally just sticking with one and moving forward with that...and just focusing on going fast. It's always a battle with equipment trying to figure out what the best set-up is to try to be the fastest possible...it's like Formula 1, we have to figure out every little detail in order to be comfortable on our skis so then we can go and push and look for speed." As far as super-G goes, Ganong says, "Anything is possible, hopefully, I can get an early bib number...and then it'll be fun to go to Cortina. I'm looking forward to it."
Jared Goldberg got caught up in the same hole teammate Ganong did, but carried good speed down the dark Kandahar track, ending up with his seventh top-30 World Cup result during the 2020-21 season. Bryce Bennett has been dialing in his equipment set-up and made some good progress on Friday, ending up 21st.
Middlebury College’s Erik Arvidsson, who recently won his first Europa Cup downhill, narrowly missed his first World Cup points, landing in 34th—less than three-tenths of a second out of 30th. Sam Morse—who was third in the same Europa Cup downhill when Arvidsson won—also started for the Americans and was 40th.
Up next will be a super-G on Saturday, which will be the final World Cup prior to World Championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.
HOW TO WATCH
*All times EST.
Friday, Feb. 5
7:00 p.m. FIS Alpine World Cup Men's Downhill - same-day broadcast, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, GER, Broadcast NBCSN
Saturday, Feb. 6
5:30 a.m. FIS Alpine World Cup Men's Super-G - LIVE, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, GER, Broadcast Olympic Channel, Streaming Olympic Channel and Streaming Peacock