Last weekend was a very good one for American ski racers skiing on American (at least North American) snow.
Up in Alberta, Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso put on a show in the speed events. Vonn finished second in two consecutive downhills, to her good buddy and chief rival Maria Riesch of Germany, then won Sunday’s Super G just ahead of Riesch with Mancuso third. Julia finished fourth and sixth in the two downhills.
At Beaver Creek, the U.S. men didn’t fare so well. The downhill got cancelled due to wind. In the Super G all of the top Americans were ambushed by the same small bump and missed the next gate. One after the other. Keystone cops. Looked like a coaching/inspection/line error to me.
But then on Sunday, Ted Ligety of Park City won the giant slalom for his first World Cup victory on home soil. Er, snow.
Both tall, blonde Vonn and dark-haired Riesch are dominating their tour, have been for the past three years. Funny, though, the images of Vonn don’t look dominating. I know, that’s a stupid thing to say. She’s winning, or coming close, in just about every speed event. But, in still photographs, her position looks a little desperate: her head is tipped, the eyes aren’t level with the horizon; her hand is flying up; she’s leaning in more than she’s angulating; the skis are off the snow.
Bode Miller can be wild, as we know, and still be fast. He doesn’t finish many races these days. When I think of dominant skiing, I think of skiers in gorgeous control of all the forces acting on them painting their way down a blank canvas. (more…)
It’s Monday, Presidents’ Day. Bode Miller just won bronze in the Olympic downhill. (I predicted he’d lay down a brilliant run or two over the fortnight. With the pressure all on Lindsey Vonn and with Bode happy, finally, with his skis and with himself, I thought the genius might shine again.)
Today is also the public memorial for Jimmie Heuga, who died at age 66 on February 8th, 46 years to the day after his bronze medal in slalom at the Innsbruck Olympics. (more…)
Opening ceremonies are a little more than a week away. And it’s still warm in Vancouver.
Of course, it’s always warm in Vancouver compared to Colorado in winter. It sits right at sea level, and the climate is tempered by a warm Pacific Ocean current from Japan and warm air from Hawaii. Vancouverites like it that way. Except when the weather threatens to jigger some of the most popular events at the Games. (more…)