Ted Ligety pulls out a ninth place finish at the World Championships super G at Beaver Creek. (Getty Images-AFP/Fabrice Coffrini)
BEAVER CREEK, CO (Feb. 5, 2015)— With bluebird skies overhead, the men raced the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships super G in Beaver Creek, CO. Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) was the top finishing American in ninth place, while Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) made his return to ski racing with a huge crash. In the end, Austria’s Hannes Reichelt was the fastest of the day, followed by Canada’s Dustin Cook and Adrien Theaux of France in second and third, respectively.
After a couple days of gusting winds and blowing snow that prevented the men’s super G from running on Wednesday, Thursday morning’s conditions were soft and warm. Prior to the race beginning, there was a touching tribute to U.S. Ski Team development athletes Bryce Astle and Ronnie Berlack—the two skiers killed by an avalanche in Soleden, Austria in early January. The moment played out in front of a standing-room-only crowd in Red Tail Stadium at the bottom of the course, with members of both the Berlack and Astle families in attendance.
Thursday’s super G promised many compelling storylines, including the return of Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) to ski racing only nine weeks after back surgery. Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal also made his first appearance of the season after rupturing his Achilles tendon last season. The two legends always promise to charge when they are slated to race, and Thursday’s super G lived up to expectations. Miller was skiing well, putting together a significant lead, before hooking his arm on a gate and crashing. The wreck left Miller with a substantial gash in his leg, but he waved his hands to the crowd and skied down to the finish own his own. The U.S. Ski Team medical staff is evaluating him. Svindal skied well, earning a sixth place spot in his first race of the season.
Miller crashed in Thursday's super G. He's being evaluated by U.S. Ski Team medical staff. (Getty Images-AFP/Don Emmert)
Five American skiers competed in the super G. Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) finished highest amongst his countrymen, ending up in ninth place. “The snow was just super, super soft, especially on the bottom half and on the flatter section. When it’s like that, it favors the bigger, more speed-oriented guys,“ explained Ligety after the race. “I felt like I skied pretty well. I was one of the faster guys on the top set, which is more the kind of section I could ski faster—the section that’s more similar to GS.”
Steven Nyman (Sundance, UT) and Andrew Weibrecht (Lake Placid, NY) finished with identical times and tied for 20th. Both Miller and Travis Ganong (Squaw Valley, CA) were marked with DNFs.
The competitive super G field foreshadows highly contested races coming up at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Vail/Beaver Creek, CO. The women’s downhill is on Friday, with Alice McKennis (Glenwood Springs, CO), Laurenne Ross (Bend, OR), and Stacey Cook (Mammoth Mountain, CA) battling for the remaining two spots in the downhill alongside Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) and Julia Mancuso (Squaw Valley, CA).
Thursday’s super G source was set by an Austrian and described as “high tempo.”
The U.S. received five start positions as a result of Ligety’s World Championships super G win at Schladming in 2013.
Miller returned to ski racing after nine weeks post-back surgery on Thursday. Norway’s Svindal also raced for the first time after an injury last season.
This was Canadian Dustin Cook’s first top 10 and podium on a World Cup.
There are six jumps on the men’s super G track in Beaver Creek, CO—Peregrine, Goshawk, Screech Owl, Golden Eagle, Harrier, and Redtail, in order from top to bottom.
QUOTES Ted Ligety The snow was just super, super soft, especially on the bottom half and on the flatter section. When it’s like that, it favors the bigger, more speed-oriented guys. That’s just the nature of it. It snowed a lot the last few days, so there was definitely a lot of soft stuff in there. I felt like I skied pretty well. When the conditions are like that, I’m going to have to have an exception run on those flatter sections to even stay close.
I felt like I skied pretty well. I was one of the faster guys on the top set, which is more the kind of section I could ski faster—the section that’s more similar to GS. I’m happy with that. When I weigh 30 pounds less than my competitors, I’m going to lose a ton of time on flat sections, especially when it’s soft snow. If it’s ice, I can stay close.
Travis Ganong The snow was just not good enough to push on it. My plan was to come into that turn and juice it to carry a lot of speed onto the flats. But the snow was so ball-y in there on that tight line. It just didn’t work. I should have adjusted my plan.
Normally people are clean on the top pitch—arc to arc, really pushing the line. The snow is not amazing. It’s not ideal, but you gotta adjust for those conditions and I didn’t.
Maybe tonight it’ll get cold and the snow will get harder and they’ll do more work on the hill to get down to the surface. Hopefully it’ll be good snow for the downhill.
Andrew Weibrecht It was softer than we’re accustomed to here. With all the new snow, it’s different than normal. I don’t think I really prepared for that as well as I should have.
I think I could have been in the top ten [without those mistakes]. For me personally, I excel a lot more when the snow is hard. With that mistake up top, I don’t think I could have done any better than I did today.
The level of competition is so high that any little mistake is the race. I knew I was out of it once I made that mistake [up top]. I just wanted to ski well down at the bottom, and take it till next time.
Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. It is what it is. It’s ski racing. That’s kinda the way it goes. It just didn’t work out for us today.
Steven Nyman I was happy with my top, but on some of those critical turns leading into the flats, I messed up. I wasn’t super clean with them. I paid! In events like this, you have to really risk everything and go for it. Today there’s was a lot of in-and-out wind as well. We’re kind of hoping for the good conditions.
Some critical turns around Pumphouse and Screech Owl, it’s more ball-y. You push into it and it slides away. I’m really bad at that snow. Some of the Austrians tend to ski better on that—like Hannes [Reichelt] on the podium. Big ups to [Canadian] Dustin Cook for coming from behind and really throwing down.
Sasha Rearick, men's head coach Today, the guys charged and attacked. They were going for it; they were focused. We have a lot to learn from the day and I’m looking forward to putting those together and getting ready for the downhill.
It was an emotional day [after Bryce Astle and Ronnie Berlack’s tribute]. Everybody was focused on their job, but took the moment to remember great individuals, great athletes that are part of our family. It was a special moment. We all wanted to send it on their behalf.
Bode was skiing outstanding. He was going for it, absolutely sending it from top to bottom. He took risks and was putting down the run that inspires America and the world. Unfortunately, in the abyss, he caught his arm on the gate. It spun him around and he took a really nasty crash. I hope we see him to race again. We’re waiting for evaluations. He’s presently at Vail Valley Medical Center.