Alpine

World Championships: 15 Moments to Remember

by
Megan Harrod
2015-02-20 15:53
 

U.S. Ski Team alpine press officer Megan Harrod chimes in with her experience at February’s hometown World Championships.

Now that the stands are empty, the cowbells have quieted and the dust has settled on the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Vail/Beaver Creek, all that is left is the memories. As 70 nations descended upon Vail and Beaver Creek, we dreamed. We lived. And we shared.

For those that couldn’t make it to the unbelievable hometown event, here are the top 15 memories we’ll take away from World Championships this year.

A moment of silence for Ronnie and Bryce

(Justin Samuels)

On Thursday, February 5, we honored fallen teammates Ronnie Berlack and Bryce Astle, who passed away in an avalanche in Soelden, Austria. Prior to the men’s super G, the clock ticked for the first forerunner and no athlete ran the course. Ronnie and Bryce—along with buddies Sam Morse, Erik Arvidsson, Drew Duffy and Kipling Weisel—would have forerun this race. The crowd was silent, and the hugs and tears were aplenty. Ski in Peace, Ronnie and Bryce.

The Hype Guy

At each race, a Korbel-sponsored guy in the stands danced like no one was watching and threw t-shirts into the air, making the crowd go wild. And dang, that crowd. The energy in the stands was amazing. The estimated 200,000 people showed up throughout the two weeks to experience countless races, Uncle E’s commentating, the Talon Crew’s incredible course work, and the volunteers, who were 2,200 strong. Wow. Andrew Weibrecht told the media that—outside of Kitzbuehel—this was the largest and loudest crowd he’s experienced. We tip our hats to the organizing committee and FIS for the incredible job.

Bode Miller

Bode showed that he’s still a boss at age 37, leading all splits in the super G before a gnarly season-ending crash. And even with a torn hamstring, he skied down to the bottom, kissed his wife and held his son before going to the hospital. He capped it off with an interview on NBC, leaving everyone wondering whether or not he will continue. My take on it? It’s Bode. He could surprise us. Anything is possible.

Men’s Downhill


(Getty Images/Agence Zoom-Christophe Pallot)

Downhill day, folks, is my favorite day. I was standing with Daron Rahlves—who foreran the course—and Jared Goldberg, when Steve Nyman came down in first. I nearly peed my pants. After that, we watched teammate Travis Ganong ski into second place, knocking Nyman off the podium by .03 behind Beat Feuz of Switzerland. Rest assured, Nyman will seek revenge in upcoming races, Feuz. Watch out. And don’t forget Weibrecht’s ninth place finish in true Warhorse style.  

Lindsey’s GS

Local heroine Lindsey Vonn had her ups and downs at World Champs, but my favorite moment was when she rejoiced after a stellar second run of GS, in her first GS race since her comeback. Her second run was the fifth fastest and she ended up 14th. The smile on her face lit up Beaver Creek’s Red Tail Stadium.

Mikaela’s gold-medal nap


(Getty Images/AFP-Fabrice Coffrini)

Mikaela Shiffrin stumbled after her small pre-race nap ritual at the start, reminding us all that she’s human—prior to showing us that she’s actually not human when she defended her slalom title in front of the home crowd.

Ted Ligety javelining his skis in the GS finish


(Getty Images/Agence Zoom-Alexis Boichard)

Ted Ligety threw his skis into the air when he realizes he’s captured GS gold. Mr. GS lives on.

Oh, Canada!


(Getty Images/Agence Zoom-Christophe Pallot)

Gotta love those big stage surprises. We also love to tout our North American neighbor’s successes, with Canada’s Dustin Cook snagging a surprise second in the super G. The coaches, racers and countless Canadian fans were stoked.

Resi Stiegler fighting through slalom

After tearing her ACL and meniscus in a training accident prior to Flachau, Resi Stiegler took a month of rest and progressed steadily back to snow, feeling strong. And like the fighter she is, Resi decided to ski the World Championships Valentine’s Day slalom. She didn’t make the top 30 first run, and decided to sit second run out. Although she fought tears as she talked to media, in true Resi-style, she handed out Valentine’s candy with a gigantic smile in the finish area.

German surprise


(Getty Images/Agence Zoom-Alexis Boichard)

A double Deuschland surprise podium in the slalom surprised even Felix Neureuther who, after a tough course set first run, sat frustrated in seventh place. Despite a fast-moving blizzard coming in the afternoon, the second run set was more conducive to letting the skis run. Felix gave the still-packed Red Tail Stadium a ripping good show, but he was not convinced it was enough. Sitting in third behind Jean-Baptiste Grange and teammate Fritz Dopfer, Neureuther stood near me in the finish area with a crushed expression on his face as Marcel Hirscher skied down. And then it happened. Hirscher straddled. The finish area exploded. Someone grabbed Felix and dragged him out for the celebration.

Equipo Mexicano!

Prince Hubertus of Hohenlohe-Langenburg is a Mexican alpine ski racer, photographer, businessman, and pop singer known as Andy Himalaya and Royal Disaster and has raced in 15 World Championships. The 56 year old—along with former U.S. Ski Team tech wonder Sarah Schleper de Gaxiola—skis for Team Mexico, and qualified for a second run, even though he finished 30 seconds off the leader. He finished DFL, but was thrilled about racing in Beaver Creek. Viva Mexico!

The Minnesota kid


(Getty Images-Doug Pensinger)

It was a day of first for young Paula Moltzan, as she grabbed her first top 30 at her first World Championships and it was the first time she had made the flip in a World Cup-level race. It was also the first time her whole family attended a race. After fighting all season and repeatedly noting  "ski racing is hard," it was incredible to see her snag the ninth fastest second run time in slalom. Go Minnesota!

Parties


(Getty Images-Doug Pensinger)

Every night was something new and thrilling in Vail Village, where every the awards and celebration parties took place into the wee hours of the morning. Whether it was dancing with ski legend Maria Höfl-Riesch, while former alpine ski racer and pop star Rainer Schoenfelder belted out German tunes, or Felix Neureuther and crew cheering at the Sonnenalp as we celebrated the double-Deutschland podium—it was pretty amazing. I had to pinch myself often.

Anna Fenninger’s winning bobble


(Getty Images/Agence Zoom-Christophe Pallot)

Anna Fenninger showed us what they mean when they say pizza vs. French fries— except for Anna it was, “You pizza when you French fry, you’re going to have a bad time.” Amazingly, even after throwing a power wedge into her second run, Fenninger only scrubbed a couple of tenths and snagged the victory by a whopping margin of 1.4 seconds. Girl, you got it.

Unicorns

I witnessed a unicorn skiing. I think this one speaks for itself.

What an unbelievable event, with highs and lows aplenty. I didn’t include it in my top 15, but Czech Republic Ondrej Bank’s crash in the downhill portion of the men’s alpine combined is worth noting. We’re so glad he is okay and emerged relatively unscathed. Also, Jared Goldberg’s third-fastest time in the downhill portion of the alpine combined was beautiful.

In general, ski racing is like a roller-coaster ride and we experienced all of it at Vail/Beaver Creek. What a wild ride it was!

Looking ahead: This weekend, the men’s speed team will compete in downhill and super G races in Saalbach, Austria, while Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin head to Maribor, Slovenia for tech events. This will be Lindsey’s first GS race since her comeback. Fun fact: Her last GS race was in Maribor, which she won by beating Slovenia’s hometown girl Tina Maze by .08.

Megan travels with the men and women’s alpine teams throughout the season. If you’d like to be added to her daily World Cup notes distribution list, please send her an email at mharrod@ussa.org. Follow her adventures on the road on Instagram at @megansharrod

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