nese jumpers on Day 1 as the Chinese women swept the podium. They were
led by Guo Xinxin with her third career World Cup victory. Last season’s
World Cup overall runner-up, Li Nina, grabbed second place for her 37th career podium and 19-year-old Mengtao Xu landed third for her fourth career
World Cup podium.
“The moves I performed are the ones that I am going to do in the Vancouver Olympics,” Guo told Chinese news outlet Xinhua. “I have done a lot of
training in Inner Mongolia last month and I really can perform better now. I
just skied normally today and won the gold.”
Some of the faces were different but the flags hanging on the podium didn’t
move as Day 2 saw another Chinese women’s sweep. This time,
it was Xu Mengtao with the win
followed by Guo Xinxin in second and Zhang Xin in third.
U.S. B Team jumper Jana
Lindsey led all the North American women in either competition with a fourth-place finish
on Day 2; it was her best result
ever on the World Cup. Lindsey has been competing on the
World Cup since 2002 but had
never managed to score higher
American Emily Cook had
eighth and 12th-place finishes
over the weekend while teammate Lacey Schnoor landed
ninth and 17th-place results.
Men’s double-winner Michael Schmid shows his top form.
“We had some good opportunities as a whole but just didn’t execute,” said
U.S. head freestyle coach Jeff Wintersteen between competitions. “We’re just
not being aggressive enough and also need to work on landings.”
Canadians Veronkica Bauer and Amber Peterson looked strong, finishing
in sixth and seventh, respectively. Sabrina Guerin led the North American
women on Day 1 in seventh, tying her career high.
The only non-Chinese athlete to steal a podium spot was Belarus skier
Anton Kushnir, who won the first men’s competition and took third in the
Chinese jumper Lui Zhongquing claimed second and teammate Wu Chao
took third on Day 1. China’s Jia Zongyang, 18, topped the men’s podium for
the first World Cup podium of his young career (only four competitions) on
Day 2. Teammate Qi Guangpu took second.
Last season’s World Cup overall champion, Canadian Steve Omischl, led
the North American men on both days, landing fifth in the first competition
and fourth the second. Jeret “Speedy” Peterson twice led the U.S. with two
ninth-place finishes. World champion American Ryan St. Onge settled for
13th and 18th-place performances.
Ski Cross, Innichen, Italy, Dec. 21-22
Just two months before their Olympic debut, ski cross racers headed to Innichen, Italy, for two World Cup competitions on Dec. 21 and 22.
Switzerland’s Michael Schmid and Sweden’s Anna Holmlund got their seasons off to a stellar start, winning both competitions.
Day 1 was good to American Casey Puckett, who survived four heats to
come away with a podium finish in third.
“Any time you’re on the podium you have to be happy, but I’m hungry for
my first World Cup win,” said Puckett, star of the recently released documentary film Appointment in Vancouver, which tells the story of his journey to
his fifth Olympic Winter Games.
Both Schmid and Holmlund won every heat (four each day) on their way to
double victories. The wins were Holmlund’s first career World Cup victories.
Schmid had had only one Cup win coming into Innichen. It was Puckett’s
fourth World Cup ski cross podium.
France’s Xavier Khun and Norway’s Audun Groenvold each took home second place finishes, while Switzerland’s Conradign Netzer finished third on
Last season’s World Cup champion, Tomas Kraus, and world champion Andreas Matt missed the semifinals both days.
American Daron Rahlves made it through the first heat but fell in the second heat to claim 13th place on Day 1. Day 2 saw Rahlves lose in a tough
first-round heat to Schmid and teammate Richard Spalinger, who went on
to finish 1-4.
“There’s no reason he shouldn’t have been in the semis,” said U.S. ski cross
coach Tyler Shepherd of Rahlves on Day 1. “What would have been great is,
he would have then skied the heat with Casey and they could have worked
together to make the finals.”
On the women’s side, Holmlund successfully beat out ski cross legend
French Ophelie David (she was third and then second) for her first career
World Cup victories. Canadian Ashleigh McIvor finished second on Day 1
while Day 2’s bronze went to Switzerland’s Sanna Luedi.
At age 33, David climbed on her 32nd and 33rd World Cup podiums in
Innichen. She has won the overall World Cup ski cross globe for the last six
American Caitlin Ciccone was knocked out in the first round of competition
on both days and finished 28th and 27th.