is, see how fast they are going, hear the skis chattering on the ice, taste the
gluhwein and feel the tension as 40,000 or 50,000 Austrian fans wait with road
flares and fireworks, ready for their heroes to take the lead. How can you not
be hooked? And, like baseball, you’ll want to come back to it; watching it on
TV will bring you a little bit of the way back if you can’t make it in person. But
if the only way that you are exposed to the magic of World Cup skiing is on TV,
you just don’t get it.
Bring a World Cup or World Championship event to the East Coast. By the
looks of it, Bode Miller — the most exciting and popular skier ever — will go his
whole career without racing in a World Cup near one of the two major popula-
tion centers in the U.S. that are most tuned into the sport of skiing: Boston and
New York. Why hasn’t there been a World Cup in the East? To start with, anyone
who has been to the U.S. Nationals over the last 10 years knows that the two
places that have had, hands down, the biggest crowds are: 1. Whiteface (in a
complete downpour with two weeks’ notice); and 2. Sugarloaf. When Nationals
have been at Alyeska, the event has been great — athletes, coaches, USSA
administrators, and sponsors alike have enjoyed the beautiful sunshine, well-
run events and the great mountain to ski on. But it is almost literally impossible
to get farther away from a major population center in the United States (unless
you go to Mammoth — and they’ve been there too!).
Let’s be serious here: If we had had a World Cup race at Stowe, or Suicide
Six, or Cannon, or Pat’s Peak, there would easily be a crowd to rival Schlad-
ming’s; in addition to Burlington, the event would be day-trip distance from
Boston, New York, and Montreal. If you have to have a downhill (an often-cited
argument against East Coast U.S. Nationals sites), have a sprint downhill (a
two-run downhill on a shorter course). If it’s on a more moderate course, so
be it (the Bellavarde downhill in Val D’Isere this year was widely criticized as
being too technical). With some chainsaw and bulldozer time, we could build a
perfectly adequate downhill course on Mount Mansfield or Spruce Peak (I bet
my cousin would even volunteer to drive the ‘dozer), a course whose winner
would be more than deserving of being called world champion.
In seven years, Lance Armstrong and his team turned bike racing into a main-
stream American sport. Sure, there was quality TV coverage of one huge event
a year, but there were also more Americans watching bike racing live than ever
before, with the Tour of Georgia, the Tour of California, and crits in New York
and San Francisco. Let’s bring a World Cup race to the East Coast, where ski-
ing was born in the United States: Stowe, or Suicide Six, or Cannon. Maybe we
won’t end up with an American World Cup tour, but we can let Bode and Ted
and Lindsey and Julia and Marco do for American ski racing what Lance has
done for American bike racing.
Note: Brown is a former U.S. Ski Team member.
You could not have made a better choice than Ben Green as men’s Masters
Skier of the Year. No one I know is harder working or more determined to meet
and surpass his goals. And no one I know could be more humble about it. Ben
serves as a true example of what sportsmanship, dedication, and friendship
are all about. Through four years of college Ben was the best roommate, team-
mate, and friend I could have asked for. He helped keep me motivated, and
helped me rediscover why I loved ski racing so much as a kid. I was fortunate
enough to have him as the best man at my wedding, and consider myself
blessed to still call him my friend. Here’s to you, Ben!
WHO WUZ ROBBED?
I read with interest your recent awards issue, and agreed with many of the conclu-
sions of your “panel.” However, when I got to the men’s International Nordic Skier
of the Year, I had to wonder if you were looking at the same season results that I
had been following.
In simple statistics, I offer some comparisons:
World Cup: 4 gold, 3 silver, other results from 4 to 23
World Championships: placed 6th and 41st
World Cup: 4 gold, 6 silver, 2 bronze, other results from 5 to 21
World Championships: placed 1st and 6th
World Cup: 5 gold, 8 silver, 4 bronze, other results from 4 to 14
World Championships: placed 3rd and 8th
World Cup: 13 gold (including 6 in a row!), 3 silver, 4 bronze, 4 fourths, 5th, 8th,
World Championships: placed 2nd and 4th
Statistically, your Skier C places a close fourth in this small list. Perhaps your panel
of “judges” know something that I don’t know (and that they are not revealing). Perhaps it is the youth of Skier C, only 22 years old — no, perhaps not, as Skier S was
born in 1990. Perhaps this is just another instance of prejudice made public.
A few other small comments:
Before there was Lindsey Vonn, there was Lindsey Van — as you say “a pioneer.”
(So what does that make Karla Keck, a trail blazer? Is that what comes before
pioneer?) Your phraseology “we figure merits this year’s award” sounds a bit apolo-
getic, as though Lindsey didn’t really deserve the award on other merits. Lindsey
finished fourth in the 2009 cup race, having stood first at mid-season, with one
gold, three silvers and four bronze medals, never placing below eighth! Do you
have any other candidates who are close to that record? And in the middle of all
that, she has to fight with the IOC over women’s jumping in Vancouver, and with
her own NGB over an airplane ticket to go to Sapporo for the season-ending com-
petition. (“Oh dear, I don’t know if we can afford that. We have to pay for our new
Palace of Excellence.”)
Re: your report on the Whistler Cup. As a webmaster writing most of my own
copy ( SkiJumpEast.com), I have battled over the conventions for designating
the various genders and classes. I have come to the conclusion that 11- to
14-year- olds are not men and women — they are boys and girls and should be
designated that way. End of discussion.
Re: The men’s Masters Skier of the Year. Ben Green, at age 27, is younger
than many top skiers on the World Cup Tour. Lets see how he is skiing 20 or
30 years from now.
Don West (old worn out ski jumper, way past 27)
Plattsburgh N. Y.
Some photo credits were mixed up in Vol. 41, Issue 11. The photos of Julia
Mancuso and Tim Jitloff on page 16; David Chodounsky on page 17; Lindsey
Vonn, Jimmy Cochran, Sarah Schleper, Stacey Cook and Marco Sullivan on
page 18; and Julia Ford on page 19 were all taken by Cory Murdock.
Ski Racing regrets the error.