Mission: Recreate Val Gardena 2008
The weather is shaping up to be gorgeous here this weekend in Val Gardena, Italy - and the Saslong surface is nice, smooth, grippy, and fully chargeable. Veteran Steven Nyman (Sundance, Utah) - who has won three times (2006, 2012, 2014) at the venue and is known as "King of the Saslong" - will lead a healthy, motivated crew of downhillers into battle on Saturday.
Val Gardena is a special place, and it’s not just the pizza and pasta that the legendary Demetz family cooks up for the American and Canadian boys at Hotel Alpino Plan that make it so. As you travel up the chairlift, the views are stunning everywhere you look. And though she is a beauty, she’s also a two-mile stretch of terrain and terror to boot.
Do you know what happened in 2008 in Val Gardena, Italy?! It was a special year for the downhillers. Then reigning FIS Ski World Cup overall champ Bode Miller led the way in second place, as a whopping five Americans finished in the top 10. It was the first time five American men had finished in the top 10 at a World Cup. It was a historical day.
On that day, it was Miller, Marco Sullivan - who is currently in Val Gardena coaching the men's sped team - in fourth, Erik Fisher in seventh, Nyman in ninth, and TJ Lanning in tenth. It's worth noting that Canada's Manny Osborne-Paradis and Erik Guay were third and fifth, respectively. The Demetz family must have made some mighty fine tiramisu the night before that race.
After a challenging 2018 season plagued with surgeries, the men's downhill team is on a podium hunt this year, and the energy is palpable. With three in the top five led by Travis Ganong (Squaw Valley, Calif.) in a commanding .68 second lead in the first downhill training run on Wednesday and three in the top 11 led by Nyman in second in Thursday's second and final training run, the boys sure are looking and feeling comfortable and fast here in Val Gardena.
On the men's tech side, Tommy Ford (Bend, Ore.), who posted a career-best World Cup giant slalom result last week in Val d’Isere, will be one to watch on Sunday in Alta Badia, where he has posted a couple of top-15 results. Olympic champion Ted Ligety (Park City, Utah) is hoping to find that nostalgic form once again in Alta Badia where he has picked up numerous top-five results, including victories in 2012 and 2010.
Off Weekend For Women's World Cup
Val d’Isere was slated to host the World Cup women’s speed event this weekend, however, unfavorable weather conditions have resulted in the event being rescheduled for Dec. 18-19 in Val Gardena, Italy. Downhill training is set for Monday, Dec. 17, and Tuesday morning, Dec. 18, with the downhill race scheduled for the afternoon of Dec. 18. The super-G will follow Wednesday, Dec. 19.
Though Mikaela Shiffrin (Avon, Colo.) is currently leading the super-G standings, she does not plan to compete at Val Gardena. She is prepping for her core disciplines of giant slalom and slalom for the upcoming World Cup in Courchevel, France - a series that included a parallel slalom and giant slalom which she swept last December.
Catch all of the action on NBC Sports Network, NBC Sports Gold, and the Olympic Channel, so make sure to tune in.
See who to watch and where to catch all the action below.
MEN’S SPEED STARTERS - VAL GARDENA
- Bryce Bennett (SG, DH)
- Tommy Biesemeyer (SG, DH)
- Ryan Cochran-Siegle (SG)
- Travis Ganong (SG, DH)
- Jared Goldberg (SG, DH)
- Wiley Maple (SG, SH)
- Sam Morse (SG, DH)
- Steven Nyman (SG, DH)
MEN'S GS STARTERS - ALTA BADIA
- Ryan Cochran-Siegle
- Tommy Ford
- Ted Ligety
- Brian McLaughlin
- River Radamus
- Hig Roberts
HOW TO WATCH
All times EST.
Preliminary schedule, subject to change
*Same-day delayed broadcast
Friday, Dec. 14
5:45 a.m. - Men’s super-G - Val Gardena, ITA - OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
6:00 a.m. - Men’s super-G - Val Gardena, ITA - Olympic Channel-TV
Sunday, Dec. 16
3:45 a.m. - Giant slalom run 1 - Alta Badia, ITA - OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
7:00 a.m. - Giant slalom run 2 - Alta Badia, ITA - Olympic Channel-TV, OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
6:00 p.m. - Giant slalom run 2 - Alta Badia, ITA - NBCSN-TV*
Fans can catch all the action in spectacular high definition via NBC Sports online at NBCSports.com/Live or through the NBC Sports app which is 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, available here: https://www.nbcsports.com/gold/snow.