Welcome to Chamonix: Ski Mecca

Megan Harrod
2016-02-18 18:05

CHAMONIX, France (Feb. 18, 2016) – The sun was shining down on Les Grand Montets and the American Downhillers on Tuesday. It was the perfect bluebird start to an exciting week of ski racing, as the Audi FIS Ski World Cup returns to the ski Mecca of Chamonix after a four-year hiatus and the crew is excited to be back on Chamonix soil.

The men will take on Chamonix’s Kandahar this weekend in alpine combined and downhill. Watch out for Steven Nyman (Sundance, UT), fresh off a podium at Jeongseon, South Korea. He was the fastest Thursday with Marco Sullivan (Squaw Valley, CA) 11th and Jared Goldberg (Holladay, UT) 15th. But keep an eye out for the consistently strong Attacking Viking, Kjetil Jansrud who has again finished in the top five in both of this week’s training runs. Hometown favorite, Frenchman Guillermo Fayed, his teammate Adrien Theaux, Austria’s Hannes Reichelt and Canadian Erik Guay will also be solid competitors.

After finishing ninth in the Kitzbuehel alpine combined, Bryce Bennett (Squaw Valley, CA) participated in his first-ever bib draw tonight and he was stoked. When asked what two details about Chamonix he likes the most, Bennett responded with, “These beautiful mountains…and the Aiguille du Midi.” The view is certainly nothing short of inspiring. On Wednesday’s training run, the start of the race venue at Les Houches sat above the clouds and created one of the more stunning spectacles the men have laid eyes on this season. It’s magical.

The American Downhillers have tasted victory here in Chamonix in the past, with victories by Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) in the combined twice and Sullivan in the downhill. Sullivan, who studied the French language in school, loves Chamonix and says it feels a little bit like home to him. It certainly seems like he’s finding his stride, laying down some fast skiing in the second and final training run today.

Just across the border in La Thuile, Italy, the women will race two downhills – one a make-up from Crans-Montana – and a super G. This will be the first-ever World Cup race in La Thuile, and they’re more than ready for it. The music was blaring in the finish during the training days and the excitement is palpable. It’s no surprise that Italy agrees with Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) – in fact, she has won the last two World Cup downhill races on Italian snow. Viva Italia and viva Vonn! She sits 87 points ahead of Switzerland’s Lara Gut, with 1,060 points to Gut’s 973 points.

Vonn was .89 ahead of teammate Alice McKennis (New Castle, CO) in the first downhill training run. In today’s training run, Vonn was experimenting with the line and her skis, and ended up 13th, while teammate McKennis was again the second fastest. Laurenne Ross (Bend, OR) was fourth and Stacey Cook (Mammoth Mountain, CA) eighth. Though the Speed Unicorns stacked the top 10 in training, it will be a challenge to fend off those feisty and fast Italians. Also watch out for Lichtenstein’s Tina Weirather and Austria’s Cornelia Huetter.

Chamonix (AC, DH) Starters
Bryce Bennett – AC, DH
Jared Goldberg – AC, DH
Wiley Maple – AC, DH
Steven Nyman – AC, DH
Marco Sullivan – DH
Andrew Weibrecht – AC, DH

La Thuile (2 DH, SG) Starters
Stacey Cook – DH, SG
Abby Ghent – SG
Anna Marno – SG
Alice McKennis – DH, SG
Laurenne Ross – DH, SG
Lindsey Vonn – DH, SG
Jackie Wiles – DH, SG


Steven Nyman
I definitely had some things I had to fix (after the first training run) … I thought I skied fairly well the whole way down. But there are definitely some sections I can improve on, but nothing major. So we’ll see how it goes tomorrow.

Marco Sullivan
The track is quite a bit better than yesterday. The snow was hard and it got colder overnight and the track is good. It was a legitimate training run, so we’re ready for the race.

The top section is really technical … then it goes a bit flat. A longer flat than we see on most courses. So it’s really important to carry speed off the top sections and be good in those transitions before the flat section.

Right now I feel pretty strong, and I’ve got good history on this course (won in 2008), and I’m excited to race.

Lindsey Vonn
I tried some different things with my line today, and tried different skis. I thought some parts worked, but others didn’t, so I have to change a few things for tomorrow, but I really like the course, so I’m ready.

Alice McKennis
In some parts it ran differently than I expected, but it was fun. I think it will get faster … and it will be perfect by race day.

Broadcast and Live Streaming (times EST)
Friday, Feb. 19
4:30 a.m. - Men's combined downhill, Chamonix - LIVE - NBC Sports Live Extra
6:00 a.m. - Women's downhill, La Thuile - LIVE - NBC Sports Live Extra
8:00 a.m. - Men's combined slalom, Chamonix - LIVE - NBC Sports Live Extra
3:30 p.m. - Men's alpine combined, Chamonix - Universal HD
11:00 p.m. - Women's downhill, La Thuile - Universal HD

Saturday, Feb. 20
4:30 a.m. - Men's downhill, Chamonix - LIVE - NBC Sports Live Extra
6:00 a.m. - Women's downhill, La Thuile - LIVE - NBC Sports Live Extra
4:00 p.m. - Men's downhill, Chamonix - Universal HD

Sunday, Feb. 21
5:00 a.m. - Women's super G, La Thuile - LIVE - NBC Sports Live Extra
6:00 p.m. - Women's super G, La Thuile - Universal HD

Men’s downhill training 1
Men’s downhill training 2
Women’s downhill training 1
Women’s downhill training 2