U.S. Ski Team men and women speed racers got their respective North American World Cup weekends off to strong starts Friday (Dec. 5).
Steve Nyman (Sundance, Utah) skied to a third place finish at Beaver Creek, Colo. Friday (Dec. 5) in what was billed as “North America’s Downhill.” Travis Ganong (Squaw Valley, Calif.) was fifth. Beaver Creek will be the site of the World Alpine Skiing Championships in February.
It was Nyman's fifth career podium finish in his 13-year career with the U.S. Ski Team and his third at the Colorado resort. He finished second in 2007; third in 2006. Kjetil Jansrud of Norway won the Beaver Creek downhill race for his third consecutive World Cup victory, while Beat Feuz of Switzerland was second. Nyman was just.02 behind for third. A super G is scheduled Saturday, followed by a Giant Slalom Sunday for the men.
Meanwhile, North of the border at Lake Louise, Canada, Laurenne Ross (Bend, Ore.) led a solid effort by the U.S. Ski Team women that saw four athletes in the top nine, including the return of a healthy Lindsey Vonn (Vail, Colo) in the first of two Audi World Cup downhills at Lake, Canada. Vonn has won at Lake Louise 14 times — so many it has been nicknamed Lake Lindsey.
It was the first World Cup race for Vonn in nearly a year. Her comeback a year ago following a serious accident on a training run leading up to the World Championships was cut short by a re-injured knee forcing a second surgery. Vonn said she felt strong in training all week and was satisfied with her first day back in World Cup competition.
Tina Maze (Slovenia) won the race. Anna Fenniger (Austria) was second; Tina Weirather (Lichtenstein) was third. Ross just barely missed the podium by .03 to finish fourth. Julia Mancuso (Squaw Valley, Calif.) was seventh, Vonn eighth and Stacey Cook (Mammoth Mountain, Calif.) ninth. The women race a second downhill Saturday, with super G set for Sunday.
Photo: World Cup men are racing at Beaver Creek in advance of February's World Championships (FIS)