US men’s ski team endures a ‘wacky’ Birds of Prey super-G at Beaver Creek
BEAVER CREEK — What a difference a year makes, both for local mountain snow conditions and the U.S. Men’s Ski Team.
Nine Americans took to the snow-covered super-G course at the Xfinity Birds of Prey Audi FIS Ski World Cup race at Beaver Creek on Saturday. Five of them earned points by cracking the top 30.
Ryan Cochran-Siegle, Travis Ganong and Thomas Biesemeyer followed each other out of the start gate with the Nos. 26, 27 and 28 bibs and all finished in the top 30 of 70-plus racers. Steven Nyman started with the 64 bib and finished 20th while Ted Ligety started 47th and finished 22nd.
On a day where conditions were dominated by snow and the start was lowered and pushed back by an hour, the racers seemed to be enjoying themselves coming into the finish corral to a pumped up crowd.
“It was definitely really fun,” Ligety said. “It wasn’t the most ideal place to start weather-wise, but it was a fun run. I’m happy to finally be in the finish line of the super-G — first time in a little while, so that’s good.”
Last year at the Birds of Prey, Ligety skied off course in the super-G. This year, he was celebrating in the finish area with his family.
For Ganong, the top finishing American at 15th, it was a solid day on the mountain after missing all of last season with a knee injury.
“Today I was ready to push a little harder and turn my brain off. It’s amazing how your mind can dictate how your results are. When you’re thinking too much it gets in the way of the skiing sometimes,” said Ganong, now with a couple races under his belt this season. “I’m starting to find that fire again, just relax and enjoy it.”
A course report from athletes already through the course usually helps, but someone had to be the first to go, and for the Americans it was Cochran-Siegle, who finished 17th.
“I think the weather actually favored us running later,” he said. “I think the snow kind of stopped for a little bit. It’s definitely one of those courses that when they lower the start, you just need to hammer all the way through.”
Biesemeyer finished 24th at last year’s Birds of Prey super-G, and 26th on Saturday.
“It was sort of a wacky race. The weather set it up for anything to happen,” he said. “The best guys won, but it was another tight race due to Mother Nature making it interesting.”
For Nyman, also coming off injuries of his own, it was an impressive run from the 64 bib that landed him in 20th.
Bryce Bennett, Wiley Maple and Jared Goldberg finished the race that more than 10 racers DNF’d, and River Radamus made his World Cup super-G debut.
Ganong, who has his own personal contingent in the crowd at Birds of Prey each year, and the rest of the Americans enjoyed a rare hometown crowd on the World Cup circuit.
“It’s always awesome to come down here to the crowd,” he said. “Hopefully it fires the kids up and helps the next generation of racers try to follow in our footsteps.”
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After getting the go-ahead from state health officials, CHSAA has given four sports the thumbs-up to compete this fall: boys golf, boys tennis, softball and cross country.