Americans’ struggles continue at Birds of Prey, none place in Saturday downhill
BEAVER CREEK — The irony of Saturday’s FIS Birds of Prey downhill should not be lost.
On a day that Beaver Creek skiing community honored Bode Miller and Daron Rahlves for their achievements, which include four World Cup downhill wins here, the current U.S. Men’s Ski Team struggled mightily.
Asking anyone to be the next Bode Miller is, perhaps, an unreasonable task. But the fact remains that red, white and blue ski fans are still waiting for the elusive “Next Great American Downhiller.”
Bryce Bennett in 21st was the top performance for the hosts on Saturday. And this was on the heels of a tough super-G outing on Friday, when Andrew Weibrecht was the top American performer — in 21st place.
Yes, it’s very early in the 2017-18 season, but this is not encouraging.
This is actually two weeks in a row in 21st in a World Cup downhill for Bennett. Those are pretty solid performances for the 25-year-old. It’s easily the Squaw Valley, California, native’s best result at Birds of Prey.
“I had a pretty good run,” Bennett said. “I had a couple mistakes, nothing major. Just a couple that cost me a little bit of speed. This is my second or third time racing this hill, so I’m trying to learn the hill some more. It’s improvement.”
Travis Ganong and Jared Goldberg tied for 30th. Ganong was certainly not happy just to be in the points. He had high hopes for Saturday, particularly after taking silver in downhill here during the 2015 FIS World Alpine Ski Championships.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, Goldberg thought he had a chance running with a higher bib number.
“The course was way easier today. The sun really baked the track,” he said. “… Running later in the day, there was sun. I was pushing really hard. I had a couple of mistakes on the hill. It happens. But it felt a lot easier. If I had it to do again, I’d ski it lot differently.”
NO COMEBACK MAGIC
Thomas Biesemeyer had no luck on Saturday. He finished 39th.
“It was not that good, to be honest,” he said. “I’m frustrated. I felt like my result today was not a clear depiction of how I’m skiing. I’m definitely going to study some video and figure it out.”
Aspen’s Wiley Maple was 50th, while Andrew Weibrecht couldn’t capture the magic of 2007. It was 10 years ago in the Birds of Prey downhill that “The War Horse” skied from the No. 53 bib into 10th place. Weibrecht finished 54th and Ryan Cochran-Siegle did not start.
The U.S. Men’s Ski Team will try to salvage the weekend today with the giant slalom.
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There might be part of Hailey Swirbul that is finally beginning to believe she belongs. The 22-year-old cross-country skier is coming off quite a stretch with the U.S. ski team, one that includes her first career World Cup podium and a successful go in the notorious Tour de Ski stage race.