The Need Speed For
starts falling, winter begins to set in. But most of all, racing begins. For the
men, that means Lake Louise and the first speed races — a downhill and
super G — of this Olympic season.
Downhill, November 28
Lake Louise can be a nasty reminder of what it means to compete outdoors
in the winter. The weather is often challenging and this season was no different. The middle training run of three scheduled was cancelled, making
for a more restful Turkey Day for the boys in Stars and Stripes. The downhill was held in a light snowfall with accompanying overcast skies and the
dreaded “flat light,” with the many contours of the course difficult to pick
out, particularly when traveling at speed — and make no mistake, Lake
Louise is a fast course.
Cuche, the 35-year-old Swiss veteran, has seen it all before. Though he
had won at Kitzbuehel, Kvitfjell and Garmisch previously and scored Cup
podiums in downhills at Beaver Creek, Val Gardena, Bormio and Wengen
(among others) he had never placed better than fifth at Lake Louise before
Saturday, Nov. 28.
Cuche said that after winning the opening training run and finishing more
than a second and a half out in the final one, he had decided he had pushed
too hard in the latter and resolved to regain “the touch, the feel I had in the
first training run.”
He found it, as well as the right line and a flat ski to add the Lake Louise
notch to a career belt that includes 11 World Cup wins (now two this season
with the GS at Soelden), the 2009 World Championship in super G and an
Olympic silver medal from back in 1998. It was a masterful performance
that put him 0.44 of a second ahead of Italian Werner Heel. Switzerland’s
Men on the alpine World Cup taste their
first downhill and super G races of the
season at Lake Louise BY HANK MCKEE
Lake Louise brings it home in so many ways. Didier Cuche won the
downhill and Manny Osborne-Paradis the super G. That’s the short story.
That was the intro. With the onset of the Lake Louise men’s events, suddenly we were into the racing season with NorAms happening mid-week
and a true World Cup pace.
The World Cup season officially kicks off with isolated individual races on
one of the glaciers above Soelden, Austria, and at Levi, Finland, above the
Arctic Circle. No disrespect to those fine race sites, but the season truly gets
going during the North American swing when full sets of races, for men and
women, start up an every-weekend schedule.
For those of us who live in North America, Lake Louise can be an awakening, kind of like a bear coming out of hibernation — the excitement starts
running in the veins of the racing community again. It is palpable. Snow
ERIC WILLIAMS (COURSE); GEPA ( 4)
Andrew Weibrecht’s run was a highlight for the U.S. Ski Team in Canada.