Alpine

Will the Speed Queen Prevail in Cortina?

by
Megan Harrod
2017-01-26 16:14
 

CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy (Jan. 26, 2017) – The Dolomites stage is set for Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO), a.k.a. the “Speed Queen,” to prevail. She already has a record 11 Audi FIS Ski World Cup victories in Cortina d’Ampezzo in all disciplines, including the last four World Cup races held here.

The immediate future in Cortina certainly looks bright for Vonn, and it’s not just because the sun is shining and the snow is sparkling in this Dolomitic paradise. After winning her 77th career World Cup in Garmisch, Germany last week in just her second race back from injury, Vonn heads to one of her favorite tracks on the circuit for a downhill and super G. Add to that the fact that, in the first of two training runs, she grabbed the third-fastest time, just .22 seconds off Slovenian Ilka Stuhec’s pace. And, she knows where she can cut time.

“I feel good,” Vonn reflected. “I didn’t really ski very well on top, but I skied well on the more technical sections in the super G section. I feel confident—downhill is coming along nicely. Every run I’m getting more confident and I feel better, especially after the win in Garmisch.”

Laurenne Ross (Bend, OR) was sixth, Jackie Wiles (Aurora, OR) 16th, Alice McKennis (New Castle, CO) 22nd and Breezy Johnson (Victor, ID) 27th. Another Olympic Champion, Julia Mancuso (Squaw Valley, CA), kicked out of the start gate for the first time since March of 2015 on Wednesday, after undergoing hip surgery. Coming through the finish with a big grin and a sigh of relief, she had fun and will look to make positive steps forward.

Mancuso
Julia Mancuso returns to the World Cup for the first time in almost two years in Thursday’s downhill training in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy. (Getty Images/Agence Zoom-Christophe Pallot)

“It was really fun for me to be back out there,” Mancuso said in the finish. “It was definitely nerve-racking. It’s hard when you start in the middle of the season, because you never get an opportunity to train downhill, and I’ve only done two days of super G, so I really had to rely on my instincts. I’m really super happy to be out here and I am still reminding myself to take it one day at a time. Even though I’ve been doing this for a long time, it’s still hard to get used to going fast.”

Over on the men’s side, they’ll take on a pair of downhills beginning on Friday—one rescheduled from Wengen—and a giant slalom. In Wednesday’s training run, Steven Nyman (Sundance, UT) posted the fourth-fastest time, leading the way for a strong American Downhiller contingent including Travis Ganong (Squaw Valley, CA) in 11th, Andrew Weibrecht (Lake Placid, NY) in 12th, Tommy Biesemeyer (Keene, NY) tied for 24th, and Bryce Bennett (Squaw Valley, CA) in 26th.

Nyman Garmisch Training

Steven Nyman was fourth in Thursday’s downhill training at the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. (Getty Images/AFP-Christof Stache)

After a challenging, slick and bumpy ride down the Streif in Kitzbuehel, the American Downhillers are loving the grippy, Colorado-like snow on the Kandahar track in Garmisch. “They prepared the hill really well,” Nyman said after the first and only downhill training run. “There are some turns that are almost Beaver Creek-like snow, just really grippy and nice.”

As is an American speed team tradition—and highlight—in Garmisch, the men spent Wednesday evening at the Hausberg Lodge with U.S. military and their families, signing autographs, enjoying a taco buffet and hanging out. Hopefully the support will give the American men the push they need to succeed on the Kandahar. “I like the hill,” reflected Steven, “and we were told no American man has ever won here. So it’d be kind of cool to be the first.”

American Downhillers

Fans can catch all of this weekend’s speed and giant slalom action on NBCSN and Universal HD, and via live stream at nbcsports.com/live.

World Championship Team
The races in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Cortina d'Ampezzo are the final qualifiers for the World Championship team, which will be named next week.

Road to Aspen Audi FIS Ski World Cup Finals
Austria’s Marcel Hirscher takes a 368-point lead into the weekend with no sign of a strong challenger to his overall lead. The downhill title chase is all knotted up with Italy’s Dominik Paris leading a group of six athletes all within 20 points. Lara Gut cut Mikaela Shiffrin's margin to just 130 points with an opportunity to potentially move into the lead in Cortina. Ilka Stuhec holds a solid lead in the downhill standings while Gut is firmly in control of super G. The chase for crystal globes leads up to the World Cup Finals in Aspen.

CONFIRMED STARTERS
Cortina, Italy – Women:
Stacey Cook (Mammoth Lakes, CA) – DH, SG
Breezy Johnson (Victor, ID) – DH, SG
Julia Mancuso (Squaw Valley, CA) – DH, SG*
Anna Marno (Centennial, WY) – SG
Alice McKennis (New Castle, CO) – DH, SG
Alice Merryweather (Hingham, MA) – SG
Laurenne Ross (Bend, OR) – DH, SG
Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, CO) – SG
Leanne Smith (North Conway, NH) – DH, SG
Jackie Wiles (Aurora, OR) – DH, SG
Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) – DH, SG

*TBD

Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany – Men: 
David Chodounsky (Crested Butte, CO) – GS
Bryce Bennett (Squaw Valley, CA) – DH
Tommy Biesemeyer (Keene, NY) – DH
Ryan Cochran-Siegle (Starksboro, VT) – GS
Tommy Ford (Bend, OR) – GS
Travis Ganong (Squaw Valley, CA) – DH
Jared Goldberg (Holladay, UT) – DH
Tim Jitloff (Reno, NV) – GS
Steven Nyman (Sundance, UT) – DH
Hig Roberts (Steamboat Springs, CO) – GS
Brennan Rubie (Salt Lake City, UT) – GS
Andrew Weibrecht (Lake Placid, NY) – DH

QUOTES
Lindsey Vonn
I feel good. I didn’t really ski very well on top, but I skied well on the more technical sections in the super G section. I feel confident—downhill is coming along nicely. Every run I’m getting more confident and I feel better, especially after the win in Garmisch. I feel like I’m finally in a good place. Super G I need a bit more work, so hopefully some of this downhill training will find its way over to super G on Sunday, but yeah—I feel good.

Julia Mancuso
It was really fun for me to be back out there. It was definitely nerve-racking. It’s hard when you start in the middle of the season, because you never get an opportunity to train downhill, and I’ve only done two days of super G, so I really had to rely on my instincts. I’m really super happy to be out here and I am still reminding myself to take it one day at a time. Even though I’ve been doing this for a long time, it’s still hard to get used to going fast.

The best thing for me, though, is I remember when I was watching before I decided to get surgery - when I was trying to do injections and trying to get back out there—I was trying to figure out how I would ever be in the start again. I would watch the girls and think, ‘There’s no way…I’m so far from that physically, how am I going to get there?’ So, to be able to come up today and stand in the start, and have all of those doubts but just trust and know that my body and my doctors and my physical therapist and all the effort is real, because I don’t think that they’d let me be out here if I wasn’t strong enough. But, of course, there’s always the doubt just wondering what, and how, it’s going to feel when you do it.

Laurenne Ross
The course is super smooth and it’s fast, and it feels like a real downhill—there’s some air, and it’s in really great shape. I look forward to this weekend. I’m excited. I’m going to take it day by day and focus on the training run tomorrow and then hopefully go fast in the race.

Steven Nyman
They prepared the hill really well. There are some turns that are almost Beaver Creek-like snow, just really grippy and nice. Then there are some injected sessions. This hill is funny, because it starts in the sun and finishes in the sun, but the rest of the hill is just dark—black—and you have to be able to shift gears. You have to be able to start out in a high gear and be technical, dynamic and fluid, and then shift gears into a glidey mentality then back into a technical mentality and then back and so on. So I feel like a big name of the game is being able to shift back and forth.

Today I was good on the flats - which is a strength of mine - but as of late, my technical skiing has been really, really good. So hopefully I can put it all together and lay one down come tomorrow. I like the hill, and we were told no American man has ever won here. So it’d be kind of cool to be the first.

BROADCAST AND LIVE STREAMING (times EST)
All events streaming at www.nbcsports.com/live

Friday, Jan. 27
7:05 a.m. - Men's downhill, Garmisch-Partenkirchen - nbcsports.com - LIVE STREAMING

Saturday, Jan 28
4:30 a.m. – Women’s downhill, Cortina d’Ampezzo – nbcsports.com – LIVE
6:00 a.m. – Men's downhill, Garmisch-Partenkirchen – nbcsports.com – LIVE STREAMING
6:00 a.m. – Men's downhill, Garmisch-Partenkirchen – NBCSN
7:30 a.m. – Women’s downhill, Cortina d’Ampezzo – NBCSN

Sunday, Jan. 29
4:15 a.m. – Men's giant slalom, run 1, Garmisch-Partenkirchen – nbcsports.com – LIVE STREAMING
5:30 a.m. – Women’s super G, Cortina d’Ampezzo – nbcsports.com – LIVE
7:00 a.m. – Men's giant slalom, run 2, Garmisch-Partenkirchen – NBCSN
7:15 a.m. – Men's giant slalom, run 2, Garmisch-Partenkirchen – nbcsports.com – LIVE STREAMING
5:30 p.m. – Women’s super G, Cortina d’Ampezzo – NBCSN

Live streaming available on NBCsports.com/Live and the NBC Sports app, which is available on the iTunes App Store, Google Play, Windows Store, Roku Channel Store, Apple TV and Amazon Fire.

RESULTS
Men’s Downhill Training Run
Women’s Downhill Training Run 1

START LIST
Men's Downhill, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Friday, Jan. 27