Inside the FIS World Alpine Ski Championships
North America’s Downhill, Birds of Prey, never disappoints. On another beautiful day for ski racing, Patrick Kueng of Switzerland seized the day and put on a show for the legions of Downhill fans in attendance at Beaver Creek.
United States’ Steven Nyman, who’s having a career year on the World Cup circuit, grabbed the early lead before Switzerland’s Beat Fuez bested the American’s pace by registering a 1:43.49 time on the challenging and scaringly-steep 1.7 mile Birds of Prey Downhill.
“I was satisfied with my run, and to come down with the lead in front of this crowd was super cool,” said Nyman. “Hopefully I can hang onto the podium,” commented the 6’4″ powerhouse of a skier. But unfortunately for Nyman, the podium was soon out of sight.
Patrick Kueng didn’t have the cleanest start to the race, but he carried his speed through the Screech Owl and Golden Eagle Jumps, and really made up some time registering the highest speed of the day at nearly 75 miles per hour. Kueng joined his countryman Fuez atop the podium and displayed the depth of what makes the Downhill skiing’s most exciting event. The cleanest line doesn’t always win, instead those skiers that attack the course and can hold on during mind-bending turns while being ultra-aggressive are rewarded Downhill glory while becoming Birds of Prey legends.
Just ask Bode Miller. If the World Championships weren’t at Beaver Creek, Miller has stated he probably wouldn’t have raced. “I’m sad I’m not able to run the Downhill, I think I had something else to show on that course. I would have liked to run it this year, but at the same time I’m happy and very fortunate to come out of crash like that without anything more severe,” said the five-time World Championship medalist.
In an interview with NBC Sports skiing analyst Dan Hicks, Miller hinted that he is leaning towards retirement, but didn’t fully embrace the idea.
With Bode Miller, the most recognizable and decorated US skier, out of the competition with an injury after crashing during Thursday’s Super G, and the Swiss holding down the top two spots on the podium late into the race, Americans’ hopes were left with the likes of young gun Travis Ganong and the “Old Warhorse” Travis Weibrecht.
Ganong put together his best run ever at Beaver Creek’s Birds of Prey, one of, if not the most challenging Downhill Course on the planet and finished in second place, just .24 seconds off the lead.
“I’ve been dreaming of this race all winter,” said the Silver medalist. “I just focused all my energy on today, and took some risks and really just put it in the fall line and it all worked out.”
It worked out very well for the US Ski Team at the Birds of Prey Downhill on Saturday as the Stars and Stripes had three finishers among the top-nine with Ganong (2nd), Nyman (4th) and Weibrecht (Tied-9th).
The Birds of Prey Course got the best of perennial Downhill power Austria however, as the country that’s so used to dominating the discipline (Austria did win Gold in both Men’s and Ladies’ Super G earlier in the week) failed to post a finisher in the top ten.
The World Alpine Ski Championships continue tomorrow from Beaver Creek, Colorado with the Men’s Super Combined.
FanRag Sports Wants to Know:
Is Bode Miller the greatest U.S. skier in history?
Where will the Americans rank in the medal count at the conclusion of the World Alpine Ski Championships?
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