BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — Much can be learned in two days of downhill training, especially on the new course.
American Stacey Cook, who finished 21st in Tuesday’s inaugural training run on Beaver Creek’s Raptor, charged to first position Wednesday, thanks in part to a major equipment change.
“I went on a little different setup today and crossed the finish line and was like, ‘Yeah, I think that’s going to work,’” said Cook. “On this course, I really wanted to dial the line yesterday, but it took today, as well. I think I have the line. I think I know what skis I’m going to ski on. I’m just going to keep looking for speed tomorrow.”
Cook finished fourth in the downhill standings last year. She was hot in the early part of the season, taking back-to-back second-place finishes at Lake Louise, a course with few comparisons to the steep and highly technical Raptor.
“I got to work with Rossignol this summer and got to build my own ski — and it’s working,” added Cook. “It’s really rewarding to have built a ski that is proving itself.”
Leanne Smith, who also saw an improvement in the second day of training, finishing 14th, said it’s important to remember that these training runs are part of a progression.
“We have three training runs here. It’s important to get your bearings and to be able to move in a positive direction. As we go on with these runs, I think you’ll see more improvement from each and every one of us. … We brought the line in in a lot of places. But that means you need to be on it way more. Things were coming at me a little faster today. A lot of us were skiing too round yesterday.”
Cook and Smith agreed that there have been some changes to the course and the set — compared to last spring when they trained on it — that should actually make things more favorable for the U.S. team.
“There are a few sections where we were running things rounder in April. It was harder to make turns and make the gates — very turny and grindy. It’s a lot more open and figured out for the World Cup,” said Smith. “The snow conditions are a little more challenging, a little more firm.”
“They widened the trail in some crucial parts in the spring where we saw it need to be widened,” said Cook. “In the spring, it was so narrow the fences were right in your face. Now, there’s a little more space, you can actually see the gates rather than just fences all the time.
“They kind of let the bottom go a little bit. In the spring, they really wanted to make it turny — that was their whole deal. We said, ‘It’s downhill. Let us go. We need speed.’ They seem to listen to us because there’s still some big turns up there, but it’s not like what we had in the spring.”
It’s fair to say there’s been broad approval of the Beaver Creek course from the international racers, as well.
“I think it’s the greatest downhill I ever skied,” said Tina Weirather, who finished second Wednesday. “There’s everything in it. It’s steep. There are jumps. There is a lot of terrain. … I tried to find the line a little bit better today than yesterday. It was pretty impressive for all the girls. Today, we pushed it a little harder.”
Weirather plans to again hammer it in tomorrow’s final day of training, saying “It’s not the kind of track where you don’t go hard. You can’t hold the line. You’re always too late.”
Lara Gut was again on the podium, slipping back a couple spots from opening day to finish third. Her time was certainly not helped by a significant mistake in the challenging Banshee Bank section in the lower third of the course.
Results – Downhill Training Day 2
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Total Time||FIS Points|
|21||26||425880||SEJERSTED Lotte Smiseth||1991||NOR||1:43.77|
|45||5||495318||RUIZ CASTILLO Carolina||1981||SPA||1:45.23|
|50||50||298084||AGERER Lisa Magdalena||1991||ITA||1:45.51|