Steven Nyman leads Americans in downhill
Steven Nyman (Sundance, Utah) battled through fog and flat light to lead four Americans into the top 30 in the classic Lauberhorn downhill Saturday, Jan. 16.
Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal won the Audi FIS Ski World Cup downhill in dominating fashion on the shortened course, which started from the combined downhill start due to weather conditions. Austria’s Hannes Reichelt and Klaus Kroll were second and third, respectively. The victory, which is his first classic downhill win, moved Svindal into the overall World Cup lead by 15 points over Austria’s Marcel Hirscher, who did not compete Saturday.
For the Americans, Nyman finished 16th, Andrew Weibrecht (Lake Placid, New York) was 21st, Jared Goldberg (Holladay, Utah) 27th and Marco Sullivan (Squaw Valley, California) was 30th. Wiley Maple (Aspen, Colorado) was 34th, Bryce Bennett (Squaw Valley) was 40th and Travis Ganong (Squaw Valley) was 42nd.
Nyman, who was 14th in the Lauberhorn last year, was well on his way to what could have been a top-10 finish before he was tossed around through Canadian Corner and got back on his tails.
"We always have to focus on the positives," Nyman said. "I had three very fast splits and two very slow splits. Today I got really bumped and went wide, but I was fast on the bottom, which I was happy with."
The story of the day, though, was the fog and flat light, as racers experienced numerous course holds. France’s Guillermo Fayed (bib 22), who was held at the start after Ganong (bib 21), crossed the line in what he described as a dangerous race due to the poor visibility.
"Coming out of the tunnel, I couldn’t even see one gate ahead of me, nothing, zero. All I could see was the fence — zero visibility," Ganong said. "It’s really unfortunate that Fayed and I had to deal with those conditions. It’s really not fair and it’s really dangerous. We had no chance on a day like today."
Fortunately, the weather cooperated enough to allow all athletes an opportunity to race. But, as Nyman noted, changing weather conditions are all part of the sport.
"The early guys had good light, then I had flat light, but it was OK," said Nyman, who started 14th. "Then the fog rolled in and it’s obviously an unfair race, but you just have to send it and hope for the best. I’ve taken advantage of good weather before. I won Gardena with good weather from the back.
"What was impressive was Klaus Kroll (bib 4) — he had good light, but he hasn’t been skiing well for about two years now, and he’s on the podium," Nyman added.
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