Bennett Career-Best Ninth in Saalbach Super-G
Under the sunshine at Saalbach, Austria, Land Rover U.S. Alpine Ski Team athlete Bryce Bennett grabbed a career-best FIS Ski World Cup super-G result, finishing in ninth-place to lead all four American starters into the points.
In a nail-biting race with four guys from outside the 30 throwing it into the top 10, Switzerland’s Marco Odermatt had a beautiful run to take the victory over the surprise second-place finisher Matthieu Bailet by .62 seconds. Austria’s Vincent Kriechmayr rounded out the podium in third, .81 seconds off the pace.
Bennett, whose previous best super-G result was 20th in Santa Caterina, Italy back in December 2016, skied a clean run, hitting the two tactical sections well. The rest of the course was pretty straight-forward, assistant coach Chris Beckmann shared, and the sun was popping on the track, which gave the higher bibs a bit of an advantage. Rather than going home for a break following World Championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, Bennett opted to stay in Europe and train with the Austrians at Saalbach to work through some ongoing equipment issues.
“It’s been a pretty tough season...but with that, in the last month and a half, Leo - my technician - and I, along with my whole team at Fischer, have gotten on the same page and started working in a good direction together,” commented Bennett. “We’ve been testing a lot of stuff, and we’re trying to advance the product, which has been difficult...but we’ve been making steps in the right direction. Coming to Saalbach for training was good, to test it out. Hopefully, we don’t make the same mistake twice, but it’s ski racing and in ski racing, you’re probably going to make that mistake 50 more times, so we’ll see.”
Bryce’s height, along with the fact that the prep period was limited due to COVID, affecting equipment testing, both have played a factor in his equipment challenges this year. “The canting of the boots—if it’s off by literally .1 of a degree, the skiing is totally different with my long shins and long legs...if it’s off by a little bit at the bottom, it’s huge at the top of the leg, so it’s super difficult to figure out. Just takes some time.”
Both Bennett and head coach Randy Pelkey shared that the Land Rover U.S. Alpine Ski Team men’s speed crew’s vibe is great and the team is progressing well as a whole. Bennett, who grew up skiing at Squaw Valley, Calif. with Erik Arvidsson, specifically called out Arvidsson’s performance on Saturday with his top-10 and how stoked he is for him.
“The whole team is going in a good direction,” said Bennett. “There was some good skiing that happened yesterday...and Erik skied so well. I mean, he is an incredible skier. There’s no denying that. He’s really good, he works so hard. It’s cool to see him so motivated and focused...I haven’t seen that in him in a very long time, and I’ve been around him for a long time. He wants to race World Cup and he wants to be successful at it, and all season long he’s been a sponge—he’s just been learning and learning and learning. He executed perfectly yesterday, skied so well top to bottom, and it just shows his capabilities. It’s cool to have him around too, pushing us. He has serious focus, and it paid off for him. I’m psyched for our whole team and the results the team is collectively putting down.”
Jared Goldberg also started for the Americans, and grabbed points, landing in 25th. Travis Ganong ran into some trouble, making an awesome inside ski recovery, landing in 28th. Middlebury College’s Arvidsson grabbed his first World Cup super-G top-30, landing in 30th to cap off what was a brilliant weekend for the 2016 World Junior downhill champion.
Kriechmayr leads the super-G standings with 401 points over Odermatt, with 318 points. In the overall standings, Odermatt (969 points) further closed the gap that France’s Alexis Pinturault (1,050) has to just 81 points. For the Land Rover U.S. Alpine Ski Team, Cochran-Siegle ended up ranked 10th in downhill, followed by Ganong in 16th.
Up next for the men is a tech series in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, with a giant slalom and slalom. The men’s speed team will now have a break and a training block prior to World Cup Finals in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, where Ganong, Bennett, and Goldberg will be starting.
HOW TO WATCH
All times EST.
Sunday, March 7
11:00 p.m. FIS Alpine World Cup Women’s Giant Slalom - same-day broadcast, Jasna, SVK, Broadcast NBCSN