Weibrecht leads U.S. in oldest World Cup downhill
WENGEN, Switzerland – Andrew Weibrecht of Lake Placid, N.Y., continued to establish himself as a consistent force in Audi FIS Alpine World Cup speed events, taking 13th for his eighth career top-15 in Saturday’s downhill.
Bode Miller, meanwhile, was a tactical error away from putting down another podium run. Squaw Valley’s Marco Sullivan and Travis Ganong were 36th and 43rd, respectively.
“Today was a good day for Andrew Weibrecht,” said U.S. men’s head coach Sasha Rearick. “He executed from top to bottom his game plan.”
With the eyes of Switzerland watching the 80th running of the famed, 2.7-mile Lauberhorn – the oldest and longest World Cup downhill – Weibrecht didn’t look like a man making his third race in Wengen.
“He skied fantastic through the difficult sections of the course,” Rearick said. “The third time he’s here, to do that kind of race on this hill is impressive.”
Switzerland’s Carlo Janka won the race a day after Miller edged him for a super combined victory, and he nearly got another run for his money from the two-time World Cup overall champion.
Miller had the fastest time of the first 12 racers at the fifth-and-final interval, but an aggressive line through the super-G turns forced him low, and he tried to take an aggressively straight line through the final turns to compensate and missed a gate just before the finish.
“I hit my elbow on the ground,” said Miller, who won back-to-back downhills at Wengen in 2007 and 2008 and became the first American to win the super combined there since Buddy Werner in 1958. “I just hit one bump. I couldn’t really see that great. It kind of got overcast today, and it was tough light, and once I made that mistake, I came out of the turn with no speed at all.”
Weibrecht said he was happy to ski hard and safe after he was less-than-pleased with 20th in Friday’s super combined downhill.
“I was happy with my effort today,” he said. “I definitely tried to make up for my last experience with full intensity, and I think that might have worked a little bit.
“The way they’ve prepared everything here has been phenomenal. This is how World Cup snow should be. It’s basically ice top to bottom. We had that in Lake Louise and Beaver Creek, and then the last couple weeks in Italy, the snow’s been soft. It’s nice to be back on the ice. It’s what I prefer.”
Steven Nyman of Sundance, Utah, said he was tired at the end of his run, but he earned a solid 21st place after injuring his ankle in last year’s Lauberhorn and missing the World Championships.
“I skied well through a lot of the sections, but that carousel turn I sucked through,” he said. Nyman slid head-first through the finish before rising to his feet and saluting the crowd.
Not bad for a guy who just started skiing again in September.
“Another positive step in the right direction,” Rearick said. “The fastest part of the course, he skied really well.”
Ganong was making just his third World Cup start, while was slowed after his tails slid out near the start, costing him speed before the flats.
Next up for the speedsters is the similarly prestigious Hahnenkamm races in Kitzbuehel, Austria, next weekend, and the U.S. team already has eyes for its next historic event.
“Kitzbuehel was the goal for me besides the Olympics this year,” Miller said. “I feel good. I feel my injuries coming around, the equipment feels great, on days like today, it comes down to execution.”
2010 AUDI FIS WORLD CUP
Jan. 16 Men’s Downhill
1. Carlo Janka, Switzerland, 2:32.23
2. Manuel Osborne-Paradis, Canada, 2:32.89
3. Marco Buechel, Liechtenstein, 2:33.05
4. Werner Heel, Italy, 2:33.06
T-5. Didier Cuche, Switzerland, and Andrej Jerman, Slovenia, 2:33.09
13. Andrew Weibrecht, Lake Placid, NY, 2:34.09
21. Steven Nyman, Sundance, UT, 2:35.10
28. Erik Fisher, Middleton, ID, 2:35.66
36. Marco Sullivan, Squaw Valley, 2:37.28
41. Scott Macartney, Crystal Mountain, Wash., 2:37.82
43. Travis Ganong, Squaw Valley, 2:38.46
DNF: Bode Miller, Franconia, N.H.