Bennett Seventh Overall As Ganong Finishes 10th In Final Downhill
Under the sun on a bluebird day in Soldeu, Andorra, Italy’s Dominik Paris claimed the victory, but it was the Swiss Beat Feuz who earned the FIS Ski World Cup downhill Chrystal Globe while Travis Ganong (Squaw Valley, Calif.) led the Americans, finishing 10th.
In his comeback season from a season-ending knee injury sustained in December 2017 that had him sidelined for the PyeongChang Olympic Games, Ganong was able to progress steadily and find the flow to get back to racing speed. “I finally feel like I’m starting to find my speed and my confidence in my skiing,” Ganong reflected. “It’s too bad the season is over now, but it’s good to go into the prep period and into the summer with a little confidence and mentally knowing that I still have it and I’m fired up for the next year.”
The track was a new one for the men, and - as teammate Bryce Bennett (Squaw Valley, Calif.) had commented on after the second and final downhill training run on Tuesday - it was also a bit easier of a downhill track than most the men have seen this season. “It’s the last run of the season in downhill,” Ganong said after his run. “So it was pretty fun to enjoy perfect snow and a little easier track than we normally ski...so you can focus on enjoying the skiing. It’s a really fun, kind of flowy hill, and there’s no big scary jump or gnarly section.” Norway's Kjetil Jansrud finished second, and Austria's Otmar Striedinger finished third to round out the podium.
Bennett struggled to find his timing on the track, finishing 21st and slipping back from sixth in the overall downhill standings to seventh. However, after finishing 20th in the 2017-18 standings, Bennett far exceeded his expectations this season. “Last night I was spending a little time reflecting on the goals I had written down for myself, and my goal this season was to become top 15 in the world,” Bennett commented. “Which means you have to be consistently in there every weekend. And there were a few weekends in there this season where I really surprised myself, where I was like, ‘Wow, I can compete with these guys when all of the pieces are in line.’ So, I far exceeded my expectations about three races into the season, and I was able to keep it going for a while.”
A little bout of food poisoning and a lack of energy as a result of traveling all season and living out of a duffel bag away from North America caught up to Bennett in Andorra, though, slowing him down a tad. “Unfortunately, here I got a little food poisoning and I was really on the edge already with energy, and it’s been really tough for me,” Bennett said. “But it is what it is, I’m safe and hopefully we can make a few adjustments coming into next season and put ourselves into an even better position.”
What will it take for Bennett to win the downhill title - something no American has done before - someday? “You need that experience - of just living and competing in Europe - and also your equipment needs to be in line every single weekend and you have to understand what you’re doing at all of these venues,” Bennett remarked. “For me, personally, if I can manage through the North American series and then put the hammer down through all of the classics, I’ll set myself up for a position to have a chance at a title. The classic downhills are what really get me fired up for racing World Cup downhill, so managing the pieces when you’re not at the classics and then putting the hammer down when it’s the real downhills.”
Veteran teammate and mentor to Bennett, Steven Nyman (Sundance, Utah), ran into some trouble after clocking a fast top split, and finished 16th in Wednesday’s downhill, pushing him to 16th in the season standings. Ganong finished 20th in the season downhill standings.
Up next, the men and women will race super-G on Thursday, with Ganong, Ryan Cochran-Siegle (Starksboro, Vt.), and World Juniors Champion River Radamus (Edwards, Colo.) competing for the men. Mikaela Shiffrin (Avon, Colo.) will go into Thursday’s super-G with the leader bib, ahead of Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather by 32 points.
HOW TO WATCH
All times EST
Wednesday, March 13
12:30 p.m. - Men and women’s World Cup Finals downhill - Soldeu, AND - NBCSN*
Thursday, March 14
5:30 a.m. - Men and women’s World Cup Finals super-G - Soldeu, AND - Olympic Channel-TV, OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
11:00 a.m. - Men and women’s World Cup Finals super-G - Soldeu, AND - NBCSN*
Saturday, March 16
4:00 a.m. - World Cup Finals men’s giant slalom run 1 - Soldeu, AND - OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
5:30 a.m. - World Cup Finals women’s slalom run 1 - Soldeu, AND - OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
7:00 a.m. - World Cup Finals men’s giant slalom run 2 - Soldeu, AND - Olympic Channel-TV, OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
8:00 a.m. - World Cup Finals women’s slalom run 2 - Soldeu, AND - Olympic Channel-TV, OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
Sunday, March 17
4:30 a.m. - World Cup Finals women’s giant slalom run 1 - Soldeu, AND - OlympicChannel.com& NBC Sports Gold
5:30 a.m. - World Cup Finals men’s slalom run 1 - Soldeu, AND - OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
7:00 a.m. - World Cup Finals women’s giant slalom 2 - Soldeu, AND - Olympic Channel-TV, OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
8:00 a.m. - World Cup Finals men’s slalom run 2 - Soldeu, AND - Olympic Channel-TV, OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
3:30 p.m. - World Cup Finals women’s giant slalom - Soldeu, AND - NBCSN*
All streams are available via desktop (NBCSports.com/Live, NBCSports.com/Gold and OlympicChannel.com) as well as mobile, tablet and connected television platforms. The NBC Sports app, NBC Sports Gold app and Olympic Channel app are available on the iTunes App Store, Google Play, Windows Store, Roku Channel Store, Apple TV and Amazon Fire. Exclusive commercial-free coverage will be available for subscribers of the NBC Sports Gold Pass.