Men’s World Cup Racing Gets Underway in Tahoe Despite Snow Storm
In a herculean effort, the course crew moved 50 inches of snow to give the men on the U.S. tech team a chance to show American fans what they're made of.
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Just days before the world’s fastest skiers were set to return to Palisade Tahoe to compete in a men’s World Cup for the first time since 1960, Mother Nature pounded the Olympic Valley with over four feet of snow. A dream for powder enthusiasts, but a nightmare for the crew who had spent months prepping for the West Coast’s reemergence on the international ski racing stage.
High expectations were set for the World Cup’s return to the United States, and neither the venue nor the athletes wanted to fall short. World Cup ski races hosted in the United States are few and far in between. Aside from the Killington and Beaver Creek World Cups at the beginning of the season, Team USA spends most of their winter far from home, traveling the continent of Europe and dreaming of a good old American breakfast.
In a herculean effort from course workers, the Palisades team somehow moved 50 inches of snow off-course, giving the men on the U.S. tech team a chance to show American and European fans alike just what the United States is made of.
Watch: Palisades Tahoe World Cup GS Highlights
The race opened to the tune of retired American downhiller, Barry Thys, ripping the national anthem in Van Halen-esque style, whammy bar and all, while Navy fighter jets flew blew over the valley, drowning out deafening cheers of a crowd who fought treacherous road conditions to be there.
But unfortunately, the U.S. racers weren’t able to match their own expectations for the day.
George Steffey was the only American to put down two runs to finish 21st. Steffey was thrilled, having overcome a career fraught with injury to reinstate his position on the U.S. Ski Team and score the first World Cup points of his career.
All eyes were on River Radamus and Tommy Ford, the U.S. Ski Team’s biggest hopefuls in the men’s giants slalom field. Despite showcasing aggressive skiing, neither finished the race. Ford made some agile saves during his first run, before blowing out of the course and rolling into the b-netting. He walked away uninjured but disappointed in his skiing.
Radamus came out of the gate guns blazing, laying down some of the fastest times on the top half of the course in his first run, putting meaning behind the red and white lightning bolt he painted on his head in honor of the occasion. After taking out a gate panel and nearly losing a pole, Radamus pulled it together enough to snag 18th in first run, giving him a second chance at glory in the afternoon. But soon into his second run, a blind rollover and an aggressive line took him out of the running, and Radamus ended the day with a DNF.
“First run I really felt like I was skiing with the best of them, and I didn’t want to leave anything on the table second run,” said Radamus. “Obviously the results aren’t what I want. But I have to understand that that’s the risk of pushing it as hard as I can.”
Radamus said the course set and snow conditions necessitated charging if the athletes wanted to be on the top.
In the end, Austria’s Marco Schwarz pushed the hardest, finishing in first three hundredths faster than the leader of the World Cup overall standings, Marco Odermatt from Switzerland. Norway’s Rasmus Windingstad rounded out the podium in third.
Watch: 2023 Palisades Tahoe GS Podium Runs
Sunday, Feb. 26 is a new day for the young crew of U.S. men, with a chance for redemption in a technical slalom on the face of Red Dog, weather permitting. Stream the first run of the men’s slalom live on Feb. 26 at 12:30 p.m. ET and the second run at 4 p.m. ET on Outside Watch, or the Outside TV app, available on Apple, Android, Roku, or Fire TV streaming devices.