Ganong Matches Season-Best Fifth to Lead Four into the Top 20
Travis Ganong led the way for the Land Rover U.S. Alpine Ski Team in Saturday’s FIS Ski World Cup downhill at Kvitfjell, Norway, landing in fifth-place to match his season-best—a mere 18 one-hundredths of a second from the podium.
Under the sunshine, blue skies, and crisp, Norwegian air, all indications were leading towards a victory on home soil for the Attacking Vikings. That is, however, until Austrian Matthias Mayer laid down a beautiful, near-perfect run to take home the win and pull off the upset victory over hometown hero Aleksander Aamodt Kilde by just .14 seconds. Switzerland’s Carlo Janka came down bib 17 to sneak ahead of countryman Beat Feuz, pushing him off the podium and giving Carlo third to round out the podium. This was Aleksander's first podium in Kvitfjell in front of his home crowd.
With seven podiums in nine World Cup starts, Beat once again had the consistency it takes to bring home his third-consecutive downhill globe. Germany’s Thomas Dressen ended up second in the downhill standings, followed by Austria’s Matthias Mayer in third.
With the Norwegians (who were the clear favorites coming into Saturday's downhill), Kjetil Jansrud and Aleksander running early, each coming down with solid runs, Travis came down bib six stoked to ski into second-place with a solid run that was (again) fastest from the last split to the finish. “Everyone loves a strong finish,” Travis laughed after his run. With fast and solid skiing, Swiss duo Carlo and Beat came down and squeezed into third and fourth, pushing Travis to fifth and less than two tenths from the podium.
Travis, who has enjoyed success on this track with four-career top-five results, feels at home here in Kvitfjell. As a result of the Land Rover U.S. Alpine downhillers' established partnership with the Norwegian speed team, the Americans have enjoyed and benefited from training opportunities here in Kvitfjell in the spring. Though he’s happy with a solid top-five result, he’s hungry for the podium—a feat the men’s speed team hasn’t achieved since Travis last won in Garmisch, in January 2017.
“I love this track, I’ve had a lot of success on this hill...I just really like this hill, and the snow,” reflected Travis. “I have a really good feeling on it. I’m skiing really well, and I’m stoked with where the season wrapped up in downhill. I really want to get back on the downhill podium—that’s definitely my ultimate goal, but it’s nice to be close and competitive, and consistently skiing well. Also, it’s great to feel super healthy, having no pain in my knees, or back, or anything. It’s really nice, so tomorrow is one last chance in the super-G and then, yeah, we’ll have to wait again until next year.”
Due to the cancellation of World Cup Finals in Cortina d’Ampezzo as a result of the Novel Coronavirus, this marked the final downhill of the season. “I really wanted to race in Cortina, to get on that hill before World Champs (2021)...it’s going to be interesting now because the Italian team is going to be the only team that will have trained on that hill and they’re going to have a huge advantage going into World Champs,” said Travis. “I was really bummed that it got cancelled, but it is what it is. It’ll be weird going home now, a couple of weeks early...we always want to race more and mentally we’re ready to race more, so it sucks to have the season end abruptly like that.”
Bryce Bennett and Ryan Cochran-Siegle tied for 17th-place, with Jared Goldberg grabbing 20th and his second top-20 of the season. Unfortunately, Steven Nyman, who had two solid training runs and was feeling the good vibes coming into Saturday, leaned in and DNFed on the top section of the course before he could even get into a good flow. He is thankfully OK and skied down. Sam Morse also started on Saturday, finishing in 45th.
It was a solid year for the downhillers, with Travis ending up ranked 13th, Ryan 14th, Bryce 16th, and Steven 20th. The top 25 athletes in each discipline in the world are invited to World Cup Finals, so the downhillers would have had a solid showing at Finals had it not been cancelled.
The Crystal Globe chase continues, with Aleksander regaining the lead in the overall with 1,202 points over French tech savant Alexis Pinturault with 1,148 points after failing to finish in the top 30 in Saturday’s downhill.
Up next is the final super-G of the 2019-20 season, on Sunday.
HOW TO WATCH
All times EST
Saturday, March 7
10:30 p.m. - Men’s downhill, Kvitfjell, NOR - NBCSN*
*Same-day delayed broadcast
Note: All televised events to stream across NBCSports.com, NBC Sports app, OlympicChannel.com, and Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA app.
Exclusive commercial-free coverage will be available for subscribers of the NBC Sports Gold Pass, available here: https://www.nbcsports.com/gold/snow.