Super G: Super fast, super fun
Aspen, CO ColoradoASPEN A warm-up this was not.That much was clear from the string of disabled racers who arrived Wednesday in the finish corral at the base of Aspen Mountain shaking their heads and muttering to no one in particular.The body language said it all: For the first two races of the disabled alpine World Cup season, the winding, rolling super G course down the right side of the mountain had proven itself a worthy challenge to all.”It was a little tricky,” said defending women’s mono-ski overall champion Laurie Stephens, who finished first and second in the two races. “Neither run was really good. I had a little more trouble on the second run. The course was set pretty tight, and it felt more like an open GS, especially on speed skis.”Stephens, who hails from Wenham, Mass., took the first race among the mono-skiers with a time of 1 minute, 3 seconds. Canada’s Kimberly Joines, who didn’t finish the first race, was way out in front in the afternoon, with a winning time of 56.38. Stephens was the only U.S. skier to earn a podium spot Wednesday.
That didn’t please defending men’s mono-ski super G champion Chris Devlin-Young of Campton, N.H., who missed a gate in the first race then survived a bumpy ride in the second to finish 11th in 57.58.Germany’s Martin Braxenthaler won both men’s mono-ski races, and Austria’s Shannon Dallas took silver in both.Devlin-Young said the course was in perfect condition, but as for his skiing …”First off, I got to say it’s my fault, because I’m the driver,” said Devlin-Young, now in his 16th season with the U.S. team. “But second, my [ski’s] socket is frozen. I had it rebuilt and it must have gotten some moisture inside it, I guess. My performance in the second run was crappy, I think, partly because of that. I wasn’t able to be fluid.””It’s a challenging hill,” said Nick Catanzarite, another U.S. team mono-skier, who finished 11th (58.02) in the morning, then managed to prop himself back upright after a fall to finish 15th (1:00.47 )in the afternoon.
“It’s pretty technical for super G,” added Catanzarite, from Winter Park. “I didn’t stack up that well. The first run was a little conservative, and then there was the big mistake on the second run. I never lost my momentum and I didn’t miss a gate, but I was sliding on my bucket for way too much of the course to compete.”Local nonprofit Challenge Aspen is putting on the races with the help of the Aspen Skiing Co.’s race department. All the racers interviewed Wednesday agreed that the course was one of the best they’ll see this year on the World Cup circuit.Simply put, it was great to be competing on a track with such a storied World Cup tradition. Most also praised the snow.Austrian mono-skier Claudia Loesch, who was second to Stephens in the morning run, has barely trained in the speed events this winter because of the lack of snow in Europe.”Here, it’s perfect, because we have winter,” said Loesch, who was paralyzed below the waist in a car accident 12 years ago. “I love it. Good snow, good track. Back home we trained on artificial snow, and it was bumpy all the time. Now it’s perfect for us. It’s not too icy and you have a good grip on the edge, so you just set the ski and go around the edge.”
Elitsa Storey, a standing skier on the U.S. team who trains at Steamboat, couldn’t think of a better place to have the first World Cup races of the season.She wasn’t too pleased with her results Wednesday (a sixth, then a seventh) but was smiling anyway.”A lot of our team is out here [in Colorado], so it’s really convenient,” said Storey, originally from Ketchum, Idaho. “We don’t have to travel very far, which is nice.”Action continues today on Aspen Mountain with the first of two giant slaloms, then slaloms Saturday and Sunday.Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Let’s make some skiing predictions. I made my X Games snowboarding predictions a day earlier and remain only mildly lukewarm in terms of confidence, but maybe I’ll feel better about the skiers.