The second day of racing at the FIS World Cup stop in Beaver Creek, Colo., presented significant weather issues for both race organizers and the athletes. The day’s Super G event was delayed for an hour due to heavy snowfall and limited visibility. The course crew worked hard and everything got under way at 12 P.M. M.S.T., albeit with a lower start gate and the racers gliding visibly slower due to the fresh snow.
Norwegian Aleksander Aamodt Kilde pushed out of the race gate wearing bib number three and rocketed into first position with a time of 1:02.32. His lead wouldn’t last long, however, as Austrian Max Franz, wearing bib five, crossed the finish line at 1:01.91, 0.41 seconds faster that Kilde. Franz's time would remain the fastest of the day, earning the Austrian his second FIS World Cup gold medal this season.
Read more: Austrian Max Franz Wins Lake Louise Downhill
But then things got weird. The two racers that followed Franz out of the start gate, Italian Dominik Paris and Norwegian Aksel Lund Svindal—bibs 6 and 7, respectively—finished with the exact same time as Kilde. Race organizers have been unable to confirm that this is the first ever three-way tie on a FIS World Cup podium, but it's likely this is the first time this has happened in the modern ski racing era.
“[It’s the] first time I’ve ever been on the podium with five guys,” said Svindal at the post-race press conference. “Like Dominik [Paris] said, we don’t have to fight. Everyone can get up here [on the podium] and it feels like a party.”
The fifth man on the podium was Switzerland's Mauro Caviezel, who snuck in the second fastest run of the day, only 0.33 seconds behind Franz. Caviezel, coming off a second place finish in the downhill yesterday and a third place finish in the Lake Louise Super G last week, seems to be having a hot streak that even he can’t quite explain.
“I don’t know what’s going on right now, but I’ve had a good three races in a row, so I’m just happy,” Caviezel told SKImag.com after the race. “It was a tough race today, with the view, the snow, and the conditions on the snow, too. Sometimes you get some grip, sometimes it was soft. So I didn’t expect in the finish to be so fast...so right now, [I’m] just happy.”
Read more: Swiss Dominate Downhill at Beaver Creek
The snow and limited visibility created issues as the race went on. That became evident as racers finished faster or slower than they were seeded. The weather cleared significantly for racers seeded 30-39, four of whom would finish in the top twenty. Five others in the same grouping did not finish the course, but had faster split times than previous racers prior to missing a gate or crashing.
Three Americans finished in the top twenty of the day. Travis Ganong (Squaw Valley, Calif.) skied a phenomenal run to finish 15th overall, 0.78 seconds off Franz’s time. Ryan Cochran-Siegle (Starksboro, Vt.) followed him out of the gate and would end up in 17th, 0.92 seconds off the fastest time of the day. Steven Nyman (Park City, Utah), who dropped with bib 64, also put down an incredible run considering the conditions of the course, and finished 20th overall, 1.19 seconds behind Franz.
After his run, Ganong called the conditions surprisingly good. "I was trying to take a warm up run down to the start, and there was about eighteen inches of fresh powder. I couldn't even make a turn before the run... but on the track [the course crew] did an amazing job slipping it out, and the snow was pretty good actually."
“I got a little fortunate, I think the light got a little better and the snow quit,” Nyman, who started with bib 64, said. “Running late, you get the opportunity to see what other people do, and that’s the only advantage you really have. I knew how I needed approach certain sections, and I thought I skied quite well except for that last turn, according to course conditions.”
“I've got to improve my start position, I've got to start chipping away at my results as well,” Nyman continued. “Hopefully [this result] helps me get to a better start, instead of [starting with bib] 64.”
For his first World Cup race of the 2017-'18 season, American Ted Ligety (Park City, Utah) just missed that top twenty cut, finishing 22nd and 1.28 seconds off the winning time. Tommy Biesemeyer (Keene, N.Y.) finished 26th, 1.32 seconds behind the winner, and Bryce Bennet (Squaw Valley, Calif.) finished 1.67 seconds off the lead in 39th. Aspen’s Wiley Maple finished in 41st, 1.77 seconds off the lead. Jared Goldberg (Holladay, Utah) finished 51st overall, 2.21 seconds off the winner’s time.
“It wasn’t the most ideal place to start weather-wise, but it was a fun run and I’m happy to get down and finally cross the finish line of a Super G in a little while,” said Ligety post-race. “It’s always hard in inspection not knowing how fast it’s going to be, and then especially running in 47, you throw in a bunch more bumps in there too. You kind of have to scramble a little bit in there as well, but it’s a fun one here [in Beaver Creek] always.”
Local racer and first time FIS World Cup competitor River Radamus (Edwards, Colo.) rounded out the American finishers today, finishing 2.41 seconds back from the leader and 54th overall. You can find the full results for the Super G here.
The Birds of Prey FIS World Cup stop at Beaver Creek concludes on Sunday, Dec. 2, with the giant slalom. The first run is currently scheduled to start at 9:45 MST.