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Austria’s Mayer leads second downhill training run


Steven Nyman, chasing a spot in Sunday's Olympic downhill, was 18th in Friday's second training run.

Steven Nyman, chasing a spot in Sunday’s Olympic downhill (GEPA/Christian Walgram)

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia — Austria’s Matthias Mayer was the fastest skier in the second downhill training run at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center on Feb. 7, clocking a time of 2:06.51 on the long, demanding Olympic course. Switzerland’s Carlo Janka was second, although he missed a gate, and Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway third.

“The jumps have increased from 10 to 15 meters,” Svindal said of the course that was running quicker today. “Anymore, and that’s not good.”

In one of several races within a race today for various national teams, U.S. skier Steven Nyman finished 18th ahead of two teammates, Jared Goldberg (22nd) and Erik Fisher (23rd), good enough to earn him the fourth and final starting spot for the U.S. in the Olympic downhill.

American coaches made the choice a few hours after the race, having watched videos of the three skiers’ runs, and deciding that Nyman would join Bode Miller (sixth today, despite a big mistake above the Bear’s Brow jump, after leading the field in yesterday’s first training run), Travis Ganong (tied with Nyman in 18th) and Marco Sullivan (35th).

After his run, Nyman hoped he had done enough to earn the Olympic start, while acknowledging that his teammates had skied well.

“I’ve never worked harder,” he said of this season leading up to the Olympics, “and I’ve never been in better shape.” The skiers had been told that if the fastest of the three ended up in the top 15, that person would get the spot; otherwise, it would be up to coaches’ discretion.

The race took place under very benign conditions, with blue skies, cool-but-not-cold temperatures (just below freezing), and almost no wind. Which was just fine for the skiers, since the course is plenty challenging even in the best weather. Perhaps the longest Olympic downhill ever, it’s water-injected for much of its length with four major jumps and plenty of high-speed turns.

Miller’s mistake came on the Bear’s Brow jump, about two-thirds of the way down the course. He’d had trouble there in his speedy run on Thursday, too.

“I wanted to try coming in with more speed and higher today,” Miller said. “And it just failed, so it’s good that I can eliminate that as an option. It was obviously a good time today, considering that mistake.”

He said he was pleased with how things have gone in the two runs so far. “I definitely know that winning a training run doesn’t matter much,” Miller said of his sixth-place finish today. “I think I have a good process of how to build for a race to get ready.”

Miller added that ski prep for this course is “a huge factor. Everyone has to make sacrifices. You want your skis sharp, but you want them as dull as you can possibly have them and still make it down, because the sharpness definitely digs in and causes over-skiing and deceleration. So you’ve got to balance it out.

“You can get away with dull skis if everything goes right,” he noted, but not “if something goes wrong and you have to make a dramatic recovery, like I did today above Bear Jump. I came into the jump at a really awkward angle for that turn, and had no chance of getting a grip on that stuff, at that angle. Given space and shape, I would have been fine. So we won’t tune the skis differently because of that. But you know, you can’t make those kinds of mistakes when it’s icy like this.”

Miller said that his left knee, the one he spent last season rehabbing, was “a little sore” after today’s run. “It’s okay,” he said. “It doesn’t feel like it’s getting any worse. It’s just a rattly course and there’s a lot of bouncing around, and when you’re bouncing around at my age (36) it doesn’t feel very good.”

Travis Ganong also talked about the toughness of the course, saying it’s “unrelenting, I mean, top to bottom, it never gives up. I’d say it’s similar to Bormio, in that it’s really a consistent pitch the whole way down, and long turns back and forth, and really tiring.” Bormio and Wengen, he said, are “known for how you get really tired and by the bottom your legs are just completely spent. So, for sure you’re feeling your legs before the second to last jump, and then you’re just holding on. It’s physically really demanding, probably the most demanding hill I’ve skied.”

And he loves the jumps. “Every time you go off the ground is amazing,” Ganong said. “You feel like you’re flying, like in a flying dream or whatever. That’s kind of what the sensation’s like. Or like skiing powder. It’s just effortless, weightless, you’re flying through the air, going 80 miles an hour, it’s just an amazing feeling. The jumps are actually a lot smaller than they were last year here, so it’s kind of a bummer in that respect, I liked the big jumps last time. But they’re still really fun. I mean, it’s hard to explain the feeling of going off a big jump like that, going 80 miles an hour, flying 80 meters. Yeah, it’s special. You guys,” he said to a mostly middle-aged crowd of reporters, “I would say you should go try it, but you might want to build up to that…”

The Austrian team, with five athletes vying for two starting spots in Sunday’s race, also used today’s training as a shootout. Otmar Streidinger  just lost out to teammate Georg Streitberger by .06 seconds for the final spot while Klaus Kroell secured his starting position as the fourth fastest on the squad. Kroell and Streitberger join Mayer and Max Franz, the seventh fastest today, in an effort to break a 14-year Austrian dry spell in the men’s Olympic downhill.

A third and final training run is scheduled on Saturday morning at 11:00 A.M. local time, ahead of Sunday’s race.

 

RESULTS

Rank Bib FIS Code Name Year Nation Total Time Diff.
 1  11  53902 MAYER Matthias 1990 AUT  2:06.51
 2  3  511313 JANKA Carlo 1986 SUI  2:06.78  +0.27
 3  19  421328 SVINDAL Aksel Lund 1982 NOR  2:07.06  +0.55
 3  6  50753 KROELL Klaus 1980 AUT  2:07.06  +0.55
 5  8  292455 FILL Peter 1982 ITA  2:07.13  +0.62
 6  12  532431 MILLER Bode 1977 USA  2:07.15  +0.64
 7  14  53817 FRANZ Max 1989 AUT  2:07.36  +0.85
 8  13  421483 JANSRUD Kjetil 1985 NOR  2:07.52  +1.01
 9  4  510727 DEFAGO Didier 1977 SUI  2:07.86  +1.35
 10  27  194190 ROGER Brice 1990 FRA  2:07.90  +1.39
 11  10  292514 HEEL Werner 1982 ITA  2:07.97  +1.46
 12  2  50858 STREITBERGER Georg 1981 AUT  2:08.08  +1.57
 13  24  54005 STRIEDINGER Otmar 1991 AUT  2:08.14  +1.63
 14  16  511139 KUENG Patrick 1984 SUI  2:08.22  +1.71
 15  17  102263 GUAY Erik 1981 CAN  2:08.26  +1.75
 16  25  51215 BAUMANN Romed 1986 AUT  2:08.30  +1.79
 17  20  192746 THEAUX Adrien 1984 FRA  2:08.41  +1.90
 18  28  533866 NYMAN Steven 1982 USA  2:08.49  +1.98
 18  26  530874 GANONG Travis 1988 USA  2:08.49  +1.98
 20  22  102899 OSBORNE-PARADIS Manuel 1984 CAN  2:08.75  +2.24
 21  35  511513 CAVIEZEL Mauro 1988 SUI  2:08.76  +2.25
 22  33  934643 GOLDBERG Jared 1991 USA  2:08.81  +2.30
 23  32  534939 FISHER Erik 1985 USA  2:08.85  +2.34
 24  40  422139 KILDE Aleksander Aamodt 1992 NOR  2:08.92  +2.41
 25  15  191740 CLAREY Johan 1981 FRA  2:09.11  +2.60
 26  21  293006 INNERHOFER Christof 1984 ITA  2:09.17  +2.66
 27  38  380260 KOSTELIC Ivica 1979 CRO  2:09.26  +2.75
 28  7  192932 FAYED Guillermo 1985 FRA  2:09.33  +2.82
 29  31  511352 VILETTA Sandro 1986 SUI  2:09.34  +2.83
 30  5  511383 FEUZ Beat 1987 SUI  2:09.49  +2.98
 31  23  191964 POISSON David 1982 FRA  2:09.56  +3.05
 32  41  150398 BANK Ondrej 1980 CZE  2:09.59  +3.08
 33  1  51327 PUCHNER Joachim 1987 AUT  2:09.63  +3.12
 34  29  561067 PERKO Rok 1985 SLO  2:09.76  +3.25
 35  9  533131 SULLIVAN Marco 1980 USA  2:09.90  +3.39
 36  37  103271 THOMSEN Benjamin 1987 CAN  2:10.01  +3.50
 37  39  491151 DE LA CUESTA Paul 1988 SPA  2:10.11  +3.60
 38  30  102271 HUDEC Jan 1981 CAN  2:10.73  +4.22
 39  42  561217 KOSI Klemen 1991 SLO  2:11.07  +4.56
 40  34  481705 GLEBOV Alexander 1983 RUS  2:11.21  +4.70
 41  55  92534 CHONGAROV Nikola 1989 BUL  2:12.29  +5.78
 42  18  291459 PARIS Dominik 1989 ITA  2:12.61  +6.10
 43  57  150495 VRABLIK Martin 1982 CZE  2:12.66  +6.15
 44  52  110324 VON APPEN Henrik 1994 CHI  2:12.67  +6.16
 45  48  370031 ALESSANDRIA Arnaud 1993 MON  2:13.15  +6.64
 46  45  660021 DANILOCHKIN Yuri 1991 BLR  2:13.28  +6.77
 46  44  670037 ZAKURDAEV Igor 1987 KAZ  2:13.28  +6.77
 48  61  90131 GEORGIEV Georgi 1987 BUL  2:13.43  +6.92
 49  50  700830 ZAMPA Adam 1990 SVK  2:13.46  +6.95
 50  51  170131 FAARUP Christoffer 1992 DAN  2:13.58  +7.07
 51  46  20324 OLIVERAS Marc 1991 AND  2:14.26  +7.75
 52  56  370022 JENOT Olivier 1988 MON  2:15.13  +8.62
 53  60  670052 KHUBER Martin 1992 KAZ  2:15.49  +8.98
 54  54  30149 SIMARI BIRKNER Cristian Javier 1980 ARG  2:16.37  +9.86
 55  47  550022 RODE Roberts 1987 LAT  2:17.32  +10.81
 56  62  150644 KRYZL Krystof 1986 CZE  2:18.71  +12.20
 57  58  710320 LAIKERT Igor 1991 BIH  2:18.81  +12.30
 58  53  700878 BENDIK Martin 1993 SVK  2:20.20  +13.69
 59  36  491129 TERRA Ferran 1987 SPA  2:21.89  +15.38
Did not start 1st run
 74  30246 BIRKNER KETELHOHN Jorge F. 1990 ARG
 73  481327 TRIKHICHEV Pavel 1992 RUS
 72  480736 KHOROSHILOV Alexander 1984 RUS
 71  430429 BYDLINSKI Maciej 1988 POL
 70  192504 MERMILLOD BLONDIN Thomas 1984 FRA
 69  530939 WEIBRECHT Andrew 1986 USA
 68  510890 ZURBRIGGEN Silvan 1981 SUI
 67  103612 PRIDY Morgan 1990 CAN
 66  380292 ZRNCIC-DIM Natko 1986 CRO
 65  194364 PINTURAULT Alexis 1991 FRA
 64  534562 LIGETY Ted 1984 USA
 49  670058 KOSHKIN Dmitriy 1986 KAZ
Did not finish 1st run
 63  460071 ACHIRILOAIE Ioan Valeriu 1990 ROU
 59  700868 FALAT Matej 1993 SVK
 43  20267 ESTEVE Kevin 1989 AND
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