Ganong races to podium finish at Birds of Prey

Travis Ganong, of the United States, leans in during the second day of super-G for the 2021 Xfinity Birds of Prey Audi FIS Ski World Cup last Friday in Beaver Creek. Ganong took third place.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

Team Palisades Tahoe skier Travis Ganong had a career day on Friday, competing on the iconic Birds of Prey course in Beaver Creek, Colorado.

After an error took him out of contention in Thursday’s World Cup super-G race, Ganong, 33, returned the following day and raced to a third-place finish to claim his first career World Cup podium in the discipline.

“I didn’t make any mistakes, and I had a tactical plan,” said Ganong, in an interview with the Vail Daily. “Today, I gave a little extra and came from behind and took my speed across the flat and just hammered the finishing pitch. I won the long split, and that put me on the podium.”

Compared to Thursday’s layout, Ganong said Friday’s course more suited his style of skiing on a hill that he’s grown to love.

“We all love this hill. It’s super fun and playful and fits into our style of skiing, growing up in Tahoe and freeskiing a lot,” added Ganong. “I’ve been second at the world champs here and fourth in the super-G and fifth in downhill. I’ve never had a super-G podium, though, so I’m stoked on my skiing.”

Ganong’s last World Cup podium was a first-place finish in downhill in 2017 in Garmisch, Germany. He was able to celebrate this latest podium with more than a dozen members of his family.

“When I was younger, it kind of added a little stress, but now I just enjoy it. I feed off of their energy,” Ganong said. “They’re so stoked just to be here and be skiing. It’s kind of like a family reunion of sorts for them, too. So it’s just a fun celebration of life and skiing.”


Local legend Daron Rahlves was also on hand Friday to watch Ganong. Rahlves, a 12-time winner on the World Cup and a three-time world championships medalist, won downhills on the Birds of Prey course in 2003 and 2005, and was second in 2004.

He said the Birds of Prey track is perfectly suited for guys like him and Ganong.

“Back at home at Tahoe … there’s a lot of terrain, we’re going fast, you’re kind of like growing up just trying to be one with the mountain and flowing down the hill, and that’s kind of what you do for downhill skiing,” said Rahlves.

“The super-G is really tough on this hill. Travis is really good — he’s a conservative skier with tactics, and really challenging terrain, which helped him a ton today. But then he just laid it down and went really aggressive at the bottom. I’m just so stoked for him right now.”

Ganong’s weekend at Birds of Prey included a 22nd place in Thursday’s super-G, and a 24th in Saturday’s downhill. Sunday’s downhill was canceled due to high winds.

Fellow Team Palisades Tahoe skier Bryce Bennett was also competing this weekend in Beaver Creek. Bennett, 29, posted a 22nd-place finish in downhill to claim World Cup points. He finished 39th and 43rd in the two super-G events.

Another member of Team Palisades Tahoe, Erik Arvidsson, 25, was competing at Birds of Prey as well. Arvidsson took 38th in downhill, and 35th and 43rd in the two super-G events.

The World Cup season heads to Val d’Isere, France, this weekend for a pair of giant slalom and slalom races.

Justin Scacco is a staff writer with the Sierra Sun, a sister publication of the Tribune.

Vail Daily reporter Nate Peterson contributed to this report

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