American men to make Canadian stop
The alpine World Cup season, which opened Oct. 22-23 on an Austrian glacier, resumes this week at Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies. The men race while the women get to hang out for another week.
The men’s tour will have a downhill Saturday and super-G Sunday at Lake Louise before the tour lurches toward Beaver Creek, Colo., for the annual VISA Birds of Prey races Dec. 1-4. Beaver Creek will host one of each discipline – a slalom, a giant slalom, a super-G and the second DH of the season.
While the men are in Beaver Creek, the women will come off hiatus and shift back into racing mode with two downhills and a super-G at Lake Louise. Then they’re in Aspen, Colo., for the Sirius Satellite Radio Aspen Winternational Dec. 9-11 with its super-G, GS and slalom.
And then everyone disappears again – heading back to Europe for the rest of the Olympic winter. The Winter Games are Feb. 10-26 and will be televised by NBC and its affiliate networks.
But, first: Lake Louise this weekend with the men. Not that the two are related, but about six months after completing purchase of a house a year ago in Park City, Bode Miller won both ends of the Canadian doubleheader. He won the first World Cup DH of his career and then took the first super-G of his career.
"I was a little surprised that I was able to win the way I did in Lake Louise, but – as I said last year – some courses just play out well for certain skiers," Miller said last week as he trained at Copper Mountain, Colo. "Lake Louise works well for me.
"It’s flat and easy up top, then there’s a technical section in the middle and the bottom has a really long and flat section that sets up really well for me because I can carry speed out of the middle and I don’t have to slow down," Miller said.
Saturday, the downhill will have the following U.S. racers: Miller and Daron Rahlves, Marco Sullivan, Park City’s J.J.
John McBride, men’s head DH/SG coach, had mixed emotions as the gents headed to Lake Louise this week. Speed training in Colorado was dramatically reduced because of several days of snowstorms; the snow was great but it made for soft conditions at Copper Mountain and minimal results in the final prep session.
"It was hard mentally to leave there feeling ‘Wow – it was fantastic in this final race preparation before the season.’ But the reality is everyone’s in the same boat," he said. "Nobody’s had great training, so no one’s got a clear advantage.
I’m glad we had such a great camp in Chile in September because we can take that one to the bank," he said. I’m confident in the guys and their abilities."
Final slots have not been determined for either race at Lake Louise, the coach said. Saturday in the downhill, Miller and Daron Rahlves will be joined by Johnson, Scott Macartney, Marco Sullivan – returning after two years on the sheld with torn ligaments in his left knee – and Steve Nyman. Kevin Francis and Erik Fisher will compete in a time trial to fill the last open spot, McBride said.
Sunday, the super-G lineup shows: Miller, Rahlves, Macartney, Johnson and one athlete to be chosen, based on the DH results.
Missing: Park City’s Bryon Friedman, who ravaged his right knee in a DH training crash in Chamonix, France, last Jauary. Friedman recently underwent surgery to relieve pain in his leg and is done for the season.
"I didn’t want another operation, but I had to do something to stop the pain," he said. McBride added, "’Freedog’ will be with us in Beaver Creek, and that’s great; he’s a valuable part of this team and he’ll be back; it’s tough but he has to be patient…and so far he’s doing exactly what he needs to do.
"It’s a shame ‘Freedog’ isn’t here this year because I think he and Marco really would push each other to new places. But we’ve got a spot for Bryon when he’s ready…and I think we’ll see him return in the spring. That will be outstanding."
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