Wisi gives his brain a rest, scores first Nor-Am victory
Through all of the 70-mph spills, ACL rehabbing and earnestness to score a spot on the World Cup skiing circuit, Wisi Betschart has learned what it takes to be successful.
“In ski racing your brain is your worst enemy,” said Betschart, who won his first Nor-Am Cup race Tuesday in Lake Louise, Canada. “I didn’t think about racing. I thought about skiing and that seemed to work for me.”
The 24-year-old from South Lake Tahoe bested Tahoe buddy Marco Sullivan by .14 of a second for his breakthrough victory in the super-G.
“It felt great,” said Betschart, who struggled to 22nd- and 23rd-place finishes in the previous two Nor-Am races – downhills. “It was a struggle at the beginning of the year. I wasn’t skiing well and then everything sort of clicked after the downhills. I took two days off and relaxed.”
Betschart credits Sullivan, who won a pair of Nor-Am downhills last week at Lake Louise, for bringing out his best skiing.
“Definitely, he helps me out. When he skis fast, he makes the whole team ski fast,” Betschart said. “If Marco won a race, I knew it would be my turn soon because of training with him this summer. I was waiting until everything fell into place.”
In the past, Betschart has felt internal pressure to qualify for World Cup. Now, he is just focusing on his skiing and having fun.
“I’m not really worried if I race in any World Cups this year,” Betschart said. “It’s made me ski faster instead of putting all kinds of pressure on making quotas, and beating this guy and beating that guy. I just go out and try to rip it up.”
Betschart was the second of 100 competitors to go down the mountain, and Sullivan – from the eighth spot – came the closest to knocking him off the No. 1 perch.
“I was worried until the last racer came down,” said Betschart, who also produced two runner-up finishes during training runs earlier in the week.
While a breakthrough Nor-Am win doesn’t carry the party weight of a World Cup victory, Betschart did receive some kind and trendy congratulations from Sullivan.
“He told me, ‘Good race, dude,” Betschart said.
Betschart and Sullivan now head to Europe for Europa Cup races in Austria and France before returning for a Nor-Am, and possibly a World Cup, on the Olympic venue next month at Snowbasin, Utah.
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