Days Of Dreams !
I'm going to start this one with a vid from our day. Jojo in her element. It's a small dream realized, getting out there together. It took precedence over the racing today. We have both been so busy! But watching her ski and be so moved was incredible ! We did get home to watch the races, and the thread of 'Days of Dreams' continued. Dreams realized. Dreams Dashed. Dreams Resurrected.
Last week, while we were In Wengen, we didn't skip out on the races In St Anton (the Birthplace of Ski Instruction). We were able to watch Brignone win while we were standing on the side of the Lauberhornrennen track. And this week, we didn't miss out on the action In Cortina. But this week was Hahnenkamm week ! I always want to be there ! This year's races have been stunning. From the stolid - unshakeable run Kriechmayr put in on the first downhill, to the unexpected podiums on all three days - to Kilde's theatrics and the continued amazing capabilities of Marco Odermatt. A lot of the tracks this season have shown the evidence of a low-snow season, which generally means that the shape of the earth beneath the snow is much less smoothed out - the hollows between the high parts less filled in. Both Cortina and The Streif were like this. The character of the event was a true downhiller's classic, and so were the performances ! The Mausefalle - Carousel - Steilhang section was skied so masterfully by a lot of the field - and not because it was easy. The Carousel, as it often does, threatened to shake the skiers' teeth out of their skulls.
Dreams Resurrected: Ilka Stuhec won the World Championship DH title in 2017 & 2019. It was during a relatively short period during which she laid down some serious results and looked to be building a solidly winning career. Then she was knocked down by a series of accidents/injuries that changed her trajectory. Ever since, I have been certain she would make a comeback, and watched with bated breath every time she skied. But with time, my belief faded. It didn't die. But I am human - and time is time. To see her win today was... Epic! She was on the podium both DH days in Cortina. 4 years since her last WC win! And Kajsa Vickhoff-Lie - another athlete who suffered a crushing injury. I think it took her something like 640 days to return to competition after her broken leg and torn acl. Her joy upon skiing to the podium was something to behold ! Cortina Is always a special event. As a speed venue, it always delivers. Even though we could only see the Tofana Schuss in the backdrop of the start today (due to wind), the venue still demanded the most form the athletes. I don’t know where to put Daniel Yule in here. He goes through slumps, but punctuates every season with important wins. It must have been great for he and Dave Ryding to stand up there together in 1st & 2nd on the SL podium ! They train together quite a bit. Ryding really is a great skier. His career stats somehow do not equal his skiing ability. He has been so close to that podium on many occasions only to have it end badly on that all important second run.
Dreams Dashed: A day after posting another win, Sofia Goggia went down in a rolling section of the course that cost more than a few skiers a dream today. Thankfully, it looks like Sofia was ok in the aftermath. But she must take this so hard, every time, she goes out it is to win. Right now she is in a battle with Brignone, who last week took the tittle of winningest Italienne. I have to mention Jared Goldberg here, for awhile he really looked like The Dream Dasher of the day when he pushed Dominik Paris and Sejersted(tied for 3rd at the time) off the podium. Jared was bib 28 and by all sense of reality must have truly believed he was finishing 3rd place, on the podium, at the Hahnenkammrennen ! Then Florian Schieder came from nowhere (bib 43!), skiing into 2nd place ! Amazing !
Nightmares: The start on the Streif is truly precipitous. I always say that is is something any lover of skiing needs to see with their own eyes. The camera angles do not do it justice. The racers' skis hang out into space as they stand in the start. There isn't much but air between them and that first big jump a few seconds down the course. The Mausefalle. I really can't imagine the confidence and trust it must take to skate out of that start, ski down that surface into the traps that await, with ones proprioceptive process trying to excite every ‘flight’ instinct there is - while trying to go as fast as you can. The big bump on the Hausberg Traverse was really a problematic feature this year. It usually is, but its shape was really evil this time - an actual jump for most, with more of a compression in the landing. The skiers, living their dreams in that start, hang between the bad and the good side of dreamland, but they must keep themselves connected to reality for any hope of success... and for some... survival. On that note, Marco Odermatt’s condition is still undergoing evaluation. I cannot be the only one who was afraid of what was happening to him on the Steilhang, with that uphill leg above his head, flattening that downhill ski which needed to hold the line on the steep off-camber slope - it drops directly into the netting. I was sure he was going to ski straight in Full Gas - But no, he recovered so instantly from that seemingly impossible position. Thank goodness. However, His knee needs more examination to determine exactly how injured he is. A nightmare in more than one way for him with Kilde within 200 pts and the impending 2023 World Championships.
Dreams Realised: Kriechmayr skied in perfect form. His run on the Streif day 1 is the current standard for textbook DH skiing. For him to do it on home turf like he did must be extra special. Florian Schieder, wow, what must it be like to be him right now? The Italian Team has a relatively good history on the Streif, and he is carrying the flag right now. Niels Hintermann (SUI), a near clone of Beat Feuz, also stepped onto that Podium on day 1! Giving Switzerland hope that the retirement of their vaunted speed champion does not spell the complete end of an era… Though end of an era it is, with the Kügelblitz leaving the circuit. But it is a dream realised to go out the way he is, at the top of his reputation, and healthy. Danke Beat !
Both DoPa and Sejersted get mentions here, so nearly saving their teams’ bacons — Sejersted, after Kilde’s near-death entry into the Zeilschuss cost him too much time to podium on day 1. But Kilde never lets a moment of trouble supplant his determination and he came back strong Saturday - showing the world that he is the world’s best Downhiller right now.
And now a moment for the U.S. Mens’s Speed Team. Congratulations ! For Travis Ganong, finishing on the podium in the most exalted race in World Cup, in his final time down the Streif, is magic. The Swiss announcers were extolling his abiltiy to finish very fast: in his career, he tended to be a bit slower on the upper portions of courses, but often posted the fastest times in the lower sections, no matter his finish standing. Travis has left a mark upon Work Cup Racing. Jared Goldberg… I was fortunate enough to be invited to a U.S. Ski Team Evening event in 2016 when Jojo and I went to Kitzbühel. I met Jared’s mother there. Our conversation left an impression and I have been constantly paying attention to Jared’s career, thinking about the trust and hope his mother has for him. He has shown golden moments, but none more golden, in Ski Racing, than sitting on the podium until the bitter end. He placed 4th. But 4th is Damn Good, and Damn good for the U.S. Speed Team. Thank you Jared. I hope the experience propels you into your future! Please, get a haircut. I lived for many years with the Business Up Front Party in the Back Mullet thing. Life gets better when you let that go.
Finally, I feel like apologising. It’s not possible to cover so many races and do justice to everyone who laid it on the line. All I can say is do what you must do to see it. Get a VPN and then you can stream every race no matter what is offered in your country. Or better yet…book a flight and a hotel room, get in the mix, and change your life for the better!