Warm weather, wind and some rain moved in for the third day of racing at FIS Alpine World Junior Championships, making for some variable conditions for the women’s alpine combined on Monday. It was an exciting day for the U.S. Ski Team, as Keely Cashman was the first U.S. athlete to step onto the podium during the championship. But for the Austrians, it may have been even sweeter, as the duo of Magdalena Egger and Lisa Grill captured the two top podium spots for the third day in a row.
The day began with the super G, which was a speedy course due to the wide set. The set brought the women onto the pitch with high speed, which made it difficult for some to find their rhythm as they skied onto the pitch, causing some notable DNFs.
“AJ (Hurt) missed her timing at the top of the pitch and went out there,” said Chip Knight, U.S. Alpine Development Director. “There were a lot of DNFs too because of that. There was a lot of speed coming down that pitch.”
Some of the athletes were able to nail this section which was a critical component to tapping into the top-10 leader board. The Austrians have been having a tremendous week on both the men’s and women’s side with at least one Austrian on the podium for both fields every day of the series.
A true attack-from-the-back story, Austria’s Egger started bib-41 for the super G and came down in first-place position. She ignited out of the starting gate and with her powerful skate she was already 0.28 ahead of the field. As she skied her way down the first pitch, she pulled further into that winning spot. She made a slight mistake — one that most girls were making — coming onto that pitch and struggled to find the rhythm change, but she brought herself back into the course, only losing a little bit of time. Down at the bottom, she was able to make up the speed and grasp the lead across the finish, just 0.04 ahead of her teammate, Lisa Grill.
Grill came down wearing bib-8 and she was gunning to be on the top of the podium. But Ida Dannewitz, the Swedish athlete who ran bib-7, crashed, which caused Grill to get flagged down and forced her to stop halfway through her run. Being flagged and having to rerun can either be a negative or a positive for a racer. Grill took it as a positive, to see the course once again and gain more speed from the different sections.
“The Austrian women (Egger and Grill) who are getting first and second every race are very good skiers across the board,” said Knight. “They have very fast skis! They get to the flats and they just motor at the bottom of the hill. They are a formidable duo with fast skis, but certainly capable slalom skiers, as well.”
In her super G run, Cashman pushed out of the start gate wearing bib-11, seeking a good position for the slalom event. She gained confidence on Sunday skiing a strong super G, so she was able to let her skis run from gate to gate, attacking the line of inspection. She came around the large turn onto the pitch that a lot of the racers were having a tough time with, and she skied it very clean. She tucked through the finish in a strong third-place standing ahead of the slalom portion of the event.
Cashman said, “I am pretty happy! I haven’t really been training a lot of speed, only tech.”
“Keely skied really, really strong in the super G. She put herself in a really nice position,” Knight said.
The women had to change their mental and physical focus for the afternoon as they moved into the slalom event of the alpine combined. The three racers holding onto their podium spots were going to have to punch it to keep their medals.
The Austrians, Grill and Egger as well as Cashman, were able to ski very consistent slalom runs to remain on top of the podium.
Egger showed her all-around ability to ski different disciplines very well. She ended third in the slalom and dominated the overall with a time of 1:39.23, which was 0.53 in front of the field. Grill wanted to make it to the finish and maintain her silver, so she may have skied more conservatively — ninth place for the slalom, which kept her in second overall. Cashman also wanted to hold onto her spot, so she did what she needed to do in the slalom. She skied strong and came down in 11th place, which gave her a good enough time for that bronze medal.
This is Cashman’s fourth Alpine World Junior Championships. She has been landing in the top five the past two years, but this was her first medal.
Hanna Aronsson Elfman, of Sweden, the winner of the slalom will be an athlete to watch for in the tech events later in the week. She came across the slalom finish 0.18 ahead of the field, but it was not enough to place her into a medaling position. Aronsson Elfman ended in a fifth place but will be gunning for the podium during the tech events.
The men’s field also ran the slalom for their alpine combined after the women’s event finished. They will conclude their alpine combined with a super G race on Tuesday. We will be touching base on their overall combined after the super G has concluded. Stay Tuned!