Three in the Points, Men's Speed Team Looks Ahead to Downhill Day
On a cold Friday in Val Gardena, Italy, under blue skies and sunshine, the Attacking Vikings Aksel Lund Svindal and Kjetil Jansrud sandwiched Italy’s Christof Innerhofer in impressive fashion, while three Americans snuck into the top 30 to grab FIS Ski World Cup super-G points.
Running bib six, Innerhofer had determination in his eyes, coming across the finish line with a 1.00-second advantage and skiing so fast it seemed almost impossible to beat. However, 36-year-old veteran Svindal proved the racehorse that he is once again, sneaking ahead of Innerhofer by just five hundredths to take the lead and grab his first World Cup victory of the season. A highlight of the day, and the “bibo award” recipient, France’s Johan Clarey rocketed from bib 50 to finish just off the podium in fourth place.
The Americans have an on-hill partnership with the Norwegians, Norway’s head coach, Christian Mitter said in his course report to the guys, “There are two different types of skiers down here – the ones who pretend to want to ski fast, and those who want to ski fast.” His report was spot on to the big guy Svindal, and they capitalized with that on a course where skiing the terrain rather than over-skiing the course was key.
Travis Ganong (Squaw Valley, Calif.) was the best American finisher on the day, landing in 24th, followed by Steven Nyman who jumped from bib 64 to land in the points in 26th, and Ryan Cochran-Siegle (Starksboro, Vt.) in 29th. Nyman, who has won three times on Saslong in downhill, continues to look comfortable on the track, and both he and Ganong are gaining confidence with each journey down the mountain as they return from knee injuries sustained during the 2018 season.
“It was OK...big mistake in the Ciaslot section," Ganong reflected after his run. "I’m getting back into the rhythm now and looking forward to tomorrow. With every run, I’m relearning how to find race speed again. For me, the main thing right now is finding that comfort on the track.”
Cochran-Siegle continues to show strength and depth in his three-discipline skiing, grabbing points in five of seven starts across three disciplines – downhill, super-G and giant slalom – so far this season. “There was some good skiing, but I over-skied a couple of sections that cost me quite a bit of time,” said Cochran-Siegle. “The snow is really good and the terrain was fun to ski. The weather shaped up to be really nice, so it’s always a lot of fun racing. It was enjoyable to ski, I just need to look for a little more speed.”
Cochran-Siegle will look ahead to Sunday’s giant slalom at Alta Badia, feeling strong in training this week at the new men’s team training base in Folgaria, Italy. “I have a lot of confidence. We adjusted some things in Folgaria after Val d’Isere giant slalom, and I think I just need to ski a consistent run all the way down and I can be in there. Just doing my best and keeping it locked in all the way through.”
The men will now shift their focus to the big show tomorrow – downhill – led by “King of the Saslong” Nyman, who has won three times in Val Gardena. “To hold the record [of four wins on this track] with Franz Klammer and Kristian Ghedina would be huge, but the true King of the Saslong is my technician, Leo Mussi. He also was the technician for Ghedina, and he’s won four times while I’ve won three times, so I can never catch up to him [Leo Mussi],” Nyman commented with a big grin.
The men will continue the pizza and pasta tour with a downhill - the headliner event of the weekend - on Saturday in Val Gardena, followed by giant slalom on Sunday in Alta Badia.
HOW TO WATCH
All times EST.
Preliminary schedule, subject to change
*Same-day delayed broadcast
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 atNBCSports.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.