After skiing both training runs, the question still stands: Will Bode Miller race the Kitzbuehel downhill? (Getty Images-Agence Zoom/Alexis Boichard)
KITZBUEHEL, Austria (Jan. 22, 2015) – It’s a legendary race. Kitzbuhel’s Hahnenkamm downhill— the “Streif”—is a classic course. It’s regarded as the most demanding track on the circuit and the “Super Bowl” of ski racing. It’s so notable Red Bull created a film about it, “Streif – One Hell of a Ride.” It’s fast, dangerous and thrilling. Get ready.
The one question everyone wants to know is whether or not Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) will be racing this weekend. Although no one knows if Miller—who is still recovering from back surgery in November—will compete this weekend, one thing is clear: Miller has yet to emerge victorious on the Streif, and he badly wants a win here. In the second and final training run in Kitzbuehel, Bode surprised everyone—and perhaps even himself—with a sixth place finish, leading the Americans. In the finish area he told the media, “There’s a reason why everyone calls [the Hahnenkamm] the toughest race in the world. There’s no margin for error. I could make one small mistake here and end up in the hospital. I’ve got to be smart about it. I’m sure there’s a discussion to be had because I was fast today, but I would say it’s not likely that I race because the risk is still high.”
Although the downhill is still on the table, Miller was a POV forerunner during the super G in Friday’s super combined for NBCSN and Universal Sports.
Travis Ganong takes fourth and ninth in the downhill training runs. (Mitch Gunn)
Whether or not Miller races, the Americans are looking strong going into the Hahnenkamm, with Travis Ganong (Squaw Valley, CA) and Steve Nyman (Squaw Valley, CA) leading the charge. Ganong finished in fourth place in Tuesday’s training and ninth on Thursday, while Nyman took 12th on Thursday.
Ganong had skirted the podium twice in 2014, with a sixth in super G and seventh in downhill, and is determined for a win this season. "Race day is a lot different than training. Everyone steps up and pushes a lot harder," said Ganong. "I'll try my best and have a good run top to bottom. I had two good training runs and I'm feeling pretty good on my skis. Anything is possible."
Nyman, who has never been better than 19th in a Kitzbuehel speed event, also reflected on his performance after his second training run. “Today I figured out a few different lines. I was better but still a little soft,” said Nyman. “If you want to win this thing, you really have to stick your nose in it. So hopefully I can do that on race day.”
The U.S. U16 National Training Group raced in Kitzbuehel against 11 other teams, taking second place.
This weekend’s festivities will include an alpine combined—one run of super G and one run of slalom—on Friday, the downhill on Saturday, and the slalom on Sunday. In addition to the elite-level races, there was also a junior race on the same hill on Wednesday, in which U16 racers came from all over the world to race. The U.S. sent a mix of U16 National Training Group members and nominees to race one run of giant slalom and one run of slalom, competing against other countries. The hometeam of Tirol took the victory, but the American athletes were a close second on the steep terrain.
KITZBUEHEL BROADCAST COVERAGE (times EST)
Friday, Jan. 23 – Super Combined 5:30 a.m. – Super combined – super G – Live streaming – universalsports.com 10:00 a.m. – Super combined – slalom – LIVE Universal Sports Network 10:45 a.m. – Super combined – slalom – Live streaming – universalsports.com
Sunday, Jan. 25 – Slalom 4:15 a.m. – Slalom first run – Live streaming – universalsports.com 7:00 a.m. – Slalom second run – LIVE Universal Sports Network 7:30 a.m. – Slalom second run – Live streaming – universalsports.com 10:30 a.m. – Hahnenkamm slalom – NBCSN