Friday’s race in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, was not on the men’s World Cup schedule until about 10 days ago. The additional day of downhill was a make-up race for the canceled men’s competition in Wengen, Switzerland, and meant that the athletes only took one training run on the formidable slope. The schedule shake-up seems to have suited the U.S. Ski Team’s Travis Ganong as he took the win with a final time of 1:53.71, 0.38 seconds ahead of Norwegian Kjetil Jansrud and 0.52 seconds ahead of Italian Peter Fill.
The Kandahar course was relentless. Covered in dark shadows, the men were challenged to ski technical sections and handle the changing terrain as well as the demanding jumps. More than one athlete was helicoptered off the hill, falling victim to the mountain’s might. It’s exactly the type of slope that played to the winner’s strengths.
The American was behind Jansrud at every split until the last 23 seconds of the course, where he skied from a 0.47 second deficit in the third split to a 0.38 second lead in the finish. Ganong’s success makes a lot of sense when you consider his knack for tackling dark, shadowy slopes. His only other World Cup win was in Santa Caterina, Italy, in 2014, which is an equally challenging venue.
“I think it was so difficult because we only had one training run, and during the training, it was really slow. Everything skied really easy, and everyone kind of relaxed like ‘Oh, this is really easy,’ and then today, the speeds were way faster,” he explained. “…They injected a section for the giant slalom race on Sunday, but they didn’t inject the whole course, so you’d hit that little patch of ice on every turn and accelerate, and I think that was a big issue today. Also, people pushing really hard, and turning off jumps. That’s never a good thing to have your ski bent when you go off a jump, and you could see that on the jump there at the bottom. It was throwing people all over the place, and it was really big.”
Aside from being at a venue that played to his strengths, the American had an extra special cheering squad supporting him.
“My parents are here, my girlfriend, a bunch of other American supporters are here from the Army base,” Ganong said. “It’s a cool spot, for sure, for me to win.”
This is the first time an American man has won at Garmisch since Steve Mahre in 1982.
More familiar to the World Cup podium is Jansrud, who has been in the mix six times this season in three different disciplines.
“I have to be satisfied now, coming in from Kitzbuehel,” Jansurd said. “It was bad weekend for me with a lot of mistakes, and today I made mistakes, too, but a lot of people does, and I think the only one that didn’t was Travis and his win’s well deserved.”
This result puts Jansrud in the lead in the men’s downhill standings with 202 points, eking out a three-point lead over the day’s third-place finisher, Fill. The Italian, who won the 2016 World Cup downhill globe, has had one other downhill podium finish this season, earning second place in Val d’Isere, France. He was not completely satisfied with his run, though he was happy to be on the podium.
“I made a big mistake in the lower part and lost a lot of time there, but today was not easy,” Fill said. “A lot of guys was having trouble around the course, and it was really not an easy run.”
Aside from Ganong, four other Americans landed in the top 30. Jared Goldberg and Thomas Biesemeyer both posted career-best downhill performances. Goldberg moved from bib 52 to 12th place, equaling his top result in downhill from Wengen in 2014. Biesemeyer embraced the shadows, coming from bib 47 to finish in 15th place. Bryce Bennett finished in 21st while Andrew Weibrecht finished in 26th position. Fellow American Downhiller Steven Nyman was one of the athletes helicoptered off the hill after crashing into the fence. He suffered a knee injury and will be out the rest of the season.
Quick update. My season is over but aside from my knee everything is okay. Time for some surgery and healing. I WILL BE BACK!
Frenchman Valentin Giraud Moine, who earned second place in the downhill at Kitzbuehel, Austria, last week, was also evacuated after taking a devastating fall and sliding into the fence. There is no word yet as to the extent of his injuries.
The men race another downhill on Saturday, which American fans can watch live on NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app at 6 a.m. ET.
- Travis Ganong (USA) – Atomic / Atomic / Atomic
- Kjetil Jansrud (NOR) – Head / Head / Head
- Peter Fill (ITA) – Atomic / Atomic / Atomic
- Hannes Reichelt (AUT) – Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
- Beat Fuez (SUI) – Head / Head / Head
- Manuel Osborne-Paradis (CAN) – Rossignol / Look / Rossignol
- Romed Baumann (AUT) – Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
- Matthias Mayer (AUT) – Head / Head / Head
- Carlo Janka (SUI) – Rossignol / Look / Rossignol
- Dominik Paris (ITA) – Nordica / Nordica / Marker
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points||WC Points|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|55||460071||ACHIRILOAIE Ioan Valeriu||1990||ROU|
|20||194542||GIRAUD MOINE Valentin||1992||FRA|
|16||422139||KILDE Aleksander Aamodt||1992||NOR|