Men's Speed Steps into the Start Gate One Final Time in 2019-20
Following the announcement from the International Ski Federation that the 2020 FIS Ski World Cup Finals in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy have been cancelled due to the Novel Coronavirus in Northern Italy, the coming weekend’s races in Kvitfjell, Norway will be the final downhill and super-G races for the men.
The Crystal Globe chase is on, with French tech savant Alexis Pinturault in the lead in the overall standings with 1,148 points over the Attacking Viking speed guru Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, by a mere 26 points. Here’s where it could get really interesting: the beat goes on next weekend in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia for a final men’s tech series, and Aleksander isn’t a slouch in giant slalom, having finished no worse than sixth in the last five giant slalom races. On the flip side, Alexis has been in the top-10 in the four super-G races he’s started this season. It’s going to be a barnburner, folks! Buckle up.
The Kvitfjell has always been a special place for the American boys. In 1994, on a crisp, clear, cold Norwegian morning, Tommy Moe rewrote history as he won Olympic gold at the Kvitfjell venue, 30 minutes north of Lillehammer. There’s magic up in the air here in the north. When the World Cup tour lands in Kvitfjell in March, the athletes and staff enjoy the slower pace, quiet spaces, and the wintry environment. And this year, Ullr delivered the goods as the men were greeted with the fluffy white stuff upon their arrival. Winter is here.
In his career-best season in 2016, Steven Nyman went on a podium streak for four-straight races, including a third-place in Kvitfjell. He and his teammates feel at home in Kvitfjell. “I love it here...it’s beautiful here, obviously,” Steven said after the second of two downhill training runs on Friday. “I’ve never seen this much snow here...it’s quite fun to be back in winter and enjoy it. Obviously the hill, with all of the new snow, I was skeptical, but they’ve done an amazing job prepping it, and it’s going to be a lot of fun to push and race tomorrow.”
With two training runs under their belt—the first time since their speed kick off in Lake Louise they’ve had two—the Americans are feeling positive about the weekend. Steven led the U.S. men on Thursday, with the seventh-fastest time. On Friday, Jared Goldberg—who was ninth in last year’s downhill at the venue—led the way with the fifth-fastest time, while Travis Ganong was seventh, Steven Nyman ninth, and Bryce Bennett 13th. Both days, Aleksander had the fastest time, with teammate Kjetil Jansrud on his heels on Friday, making them the obvious favorites.
“The Norwegians are obviously the favorites,” Steven commented. “They’ve had a lot of miles on this track, but so have the Americans with our partnership. We’ve trained here in the spring a lot, so I feel comfortable here and hopefully, I can lay it down. No expectations, just execute the way I know I need to execute, and really put everything on the hill to see what I’m capable of.”
Taking into consideration FIS’ cancellation of the World Cup Finals, the men will be “full send” in Kvitfjell, hoping to sign off the 2019-20 season on a positive note. “The slope is fantastic, but it’s a tricky slope,” Steven added. “If you make a mistake, it’s hard to gain that speed back, so you really have to be precise and nail certain sections to carry the speed that you need to be on the podium here. You’ll see tomorrow, especially with the cancellation of the World Cup Finals—guys are going to be gunning and guys want to perform their best—but we’ve got to catch up to some Norwegians.”
Following Saturday’s downhill will be a super-G on Sunday.
Check out how and who to watch below.
Monday, March. 9
1:00 a.m. - Men’s super-G, 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.