LAKE LOUISE, Alberta – Aside from sunshine and warm temperatures (warm by Lake Louise standards, at least) the only other constant in the three official downhill training runs at the Canadian resort has been the Attacking Viking duo of Kjetil Jansrud and Aksel Lund Svindal. After finishing second to Svindal on the opening day, Jansrud paced the field on the last two runs down the track ahead of Saturday’s race. Trading places from the first training run, Svindal finished just behind his teammate today, 0.35 seconds back.
Despite Jansrud’s evident speed on the course, which has built up steadily over three days, he knows a victory in the race is no guarantee.
“Today felt a little better, especially from the halfway point down to the finish. I think it was pretty good,” said Jansrud. “But I’m also lagging a bit behind the best ones all the way to the third split, so I’ll have to take a good look at video and try to change that for tomorrow. But I’m feeling confident. For sure in downhill there’s a lot of details going on, and if you miss out on a few of those you’re in the back of the pack.”
Jansrud’s closest rival might turn out to be his own teammate who missed last season with a torn Achilles tendon. Svindal returns to the Lake Louise track in a year with more terrain and snow than in the past.
“There are some sections that I would say are fairly challenging, so it’s getting harder and harder every day to have a perfectly clean run because it’s getting a little bumpy,” said Svindal. “I feel good, but you definitely need to keep it together because there’s not a lot of room for error. At those speeds if you have just a little mistake, the tenths are flying really fast. It’s not going to be an easy race to win.”
Frenchman Guillermo Fayed snagged the third spot in the final training run after making some adjustments over the three days.
“My way of skiing changed between the three runs we had here. First day was OK, then yesterday I took it a little too easy and the slope was much harder so I got bounced around. But I spoke a lot with our coaches and we analyzed the video, and today I felt much better,” said Fayed. “The race is going to be tough. There is a lot of terrain and the Norwegians are in a league on their own right now. But we’re going to try to tighten or even close the gap during the season.”
Americans Steven Nyman and Travis Ganong gave close chase in fourth and sixth, respectively, within 0.76 seconds of Jansrud. Ganong admitted he took the run more conservatively to save up energy for tomorrow’s race while Nyman spoke about changing his skis over the course of the week.
“Yesterday I tried some new skis and skied really well, actually, but the skis weren’t that fast. And then today I went back on a similar set-up to my race set-up, had two big mistakes and still was pretty fast. So I’m happy with the way I’m skiing. I need to clean those mistakes up, and I know I can push for the top.”
Aside from betting on himself, Nyman also offered a Fantasy Ski Racer bonus pick for the top 10.
“A really valuable pick would be Aleksander Kilde. He’s coming from the back, so there are a lot of extra points you can get with him,” Nyman noted of the young Norwegian who’s moved from start numbers 60 and 58 into the mix each day so far.
U.S. fans can watch the men’s downhill from Lake Louise streaming on NBC Live Extra starting at 1:30 p.m. ET Saturday or tune into Universal HD at 7 p.m. for the full broadcast. Canadian fans can watch CBC at 4 p.m. ET or access the live stream through ACA’s website here.
|2||19||421328||SVINDAL Aksel Lund||1982||NOR||1:48.07||+0.35|
|13||36||194542||GIRAUD MOINE Valentin||1992||FRA||1:49.16||+1.44|
|19||58||422139||KILDE Aleksander Aamodt||1992||NOR||1:49.51||+1.79|
|26||67||192504||MERMILLOD BLONDIN Thomas||1984||FRA||1:50.03||+2.31|
|42||48||380292||ZRNCIC DIM Natko||1986||CRO||1:50.99||+3.27|
|60||64||110324||VON APPEN Henrik||1994||CHI||1:52.00||+4.28|
|Did not start 1st run|