BEAVER CREEK — You name it, and Swiss skier Carlo Janka has been through it.
The 27-year-old won the gold in giant slalom at the 2010 Olympic Games. He’s also the owner of a gold in the World Championships and a World Cup overall title.
In 2011, he dropped out of sight after undergoing open-heart surgery to correct a heart arrhythmia that was increasingly affecting his health. After a full rest during the off-season, he attempted to return to competition, but dealt with back problems, and then struggled to adapt to new GS ski specification rules. This past season, his results were littered with mid-to-end-of-the-pack finishes in downhill, super-G and super combined, but he failed to finish all but one giant slalom race. He hopes that this season, the outlook may be different.
Things getting better
“It was equipment, it was a little bit of health, and all the little things came together last season. It was really bad season, and I think now things are getting better,” he said after his first giant slalom race of the season at Beaver Creek on Sunday.
He entered the race ranked 68th, and ended up in sixth place by the end of the day, 3 seconds behind winner Ted Ligety. Some of that old form showed as he sliced his way down the course under cloudy skies and through steadily falling snow.
It’s been so long since Janka has sat in the hot seat (the spot reserved for the fastest time so far in the race), that many ski racing fans might not have known who he was. However, anyone who watched the races a few years ago in 2009 might remember the young Swiss who took the win in giant slalom, downhill and super combined, becoming the first skier to win three World Cup races in a single weekend since Hermann Maier in 2000.
Admittedly, Janka is far from that form now — his heart is in good shape, but he said the two runs left him quite tired. However, he said it was nice to be back in Beaver Creek.
“It feels very good, and Beaver Creek is a place I like very much,” he said. “I had solid runs today and was pleased with the results.”
As for his equipment, he said he still hasn’t gotten it dialed in. Instead, he’s been tackling the problem with hard work and practice.
“I’ve trained with these all summer long, and that was the key,” he said.