Carlo Janka, 12 years younger than teammate Cuche, rekindled the magic
that brought him his first World Cup podium at Lake Louise a year ago to
The all-powerful Austrian squad, winners of the Nations Cup for 20 years
running, had to be content with no podium for the day, and no top 10 beyond
the fourth place showing of current Oesterrichischer Abfart star Michael
The Canadians, Swiss and 40-year-old Swede Patrik Jaerbyn had a highlight day. The Cowboys of Canada had John Kucera in sixth and Robbie
Dixon eighth. The Swiss had Cuche win, Janka podium, Ambrosi Hoffmann
in fifth and Tobias Gruenenfelder ninth. Jaerbyn skied to seventh while his
younger teammate Hans Olsson increased his liking for the hill rounding
out the top 10.
For the Americans the day will be most remembered for the severe head-between-the-skis crash of TJ Lanning, though Andrew Weibrecht had a
spectacular showing in getting to the 12th place finish despite starting 62nd.
The only other U.S. skier to score in the race was Bode Miller, putting down
a cautious run fitting for a racer with three scant days of speed training, in
Lanning’s crash definitely took the wind out of the U.S. sails. There was
never a doubt his injuries would be serious. A veteran of multiple previous
injuries and rehabs, he was screaming before he stopped and a helicopter
was quickly called to airlift him off the hill. After dislocating his left knee
and fracturing the C5 vertebrae in his neck, he was transported from Banff
to Calgary to Vail where surgery was performed Wednesday, Dec. 2, to fuse
two vertebrae and stabilize the fracture. “The surgery is typical with injuries
such as this and designed to create stability, allowing the fracture to heal
more safely,” the team’s medical director, Richard Quincy, said. The surgery,
he said, “went very well.”
Though Cuche’s win was hardly a major surprise, he was characteristically
humble, crediting his ski service for fast skis and his training for getting him
ready. “I wasn’t sure I was skiing so well in downhill as [I was] in GS and
super G,” said Cuche. “I knew that technically it was OK, but that smooth
feeling to let the ski go wasn’t so fast the last few days of training.”
Weibrecht’s run was the day’s U.S. highlight. It was a smooth, clean run,
basically mistake free. The Northwood School product felt it was aided a bit
as the clouds lifted and the day brightened for his run, about two and a half
hours after the first starter.
“I got a little bit lucky with the light,” the man they call the War Horse said.
“It seemed like it cleared up a little bit. I just put the hammer down and gave
Didier Cuche powers toward a downhill win.
Robbie Dixon helped lead Alpine Canada with a fifth-place finish.
it everything I had and skied clean.”
It doesn’t hurt that he seems to be riding a flatter ski than he has previously
been known for. “I’m starting to figure out the gliding part of skiing, so it’s
getting better and better,” he said.
It was the third-best result of his career and attests to a good summer of
Super G, November 29
The super G was a balls-to-the-wall, rock-n-roll kind of race that suits the
Canadian personae to a tee. Manny Osborne-Paradis got the win despite a
run he said was filled with mistakes. It was that kind of race.
“I just pushed it,” he said. “I made lots of mistakes but I made sure the skis
were always running cleanly down the fall line. … It worked out really well.”
It worked out well enough to squelch a redemption-minded Austrian team
that was definitely charging. The surprise was that it was Benjamin Raich
who got second, ahead of Walchhofer. There is no question of Raich’s pedigree. The podium placing was the 82nd of his World Cup career, but it was
just his fifth super G podium, making it slightly less expected.
Then came more Canadians: Eric Guay in fourth and Robbie Dixon in fifth.
It was of the 13 best results in Guay’s seven years of scoring results and the
second best result ever for Dixon.
And it might well have been more for John Kucera, who had a good run
going when he
exited the course.
he started cartwheeling. He said
later in the week
in a teleconfer-ence he wasn’t
sure when his leg
snapped, but it
was either in the
first or second
cartwheel. And so Canada lost the 2009 World Downhill champion for the
season in which it is hosting the Olympic Winter Games, and that certainly
cast a shadow over the victory and triple top-five showing, the best in Canadian history for a World Cup super G.
The U.S. got a surprisingly good showing from Ted Ligety in eighth, an indication he is ready, willing and able to take his GS prowess into other disciplines. Weibrecht registered 12th and Marco Sullivan 15th. The Canadian
swing of the men’s World Cup tour was not altogether unkind to the North
Americans, save for two critical injuries. The season was well and truly underway.
Canadian Mounties help present the podium
of Raich, Osborne-Paradis and Walchhofer.