high. It apparently wasn’t early enough.
“They had everybody slipping and kept throwing
chemicals, but little holes turned into three-foot holes
in no time,” said Wagner. “It was a real difficult day
The numbers bear that out. Gold-medal winner
Stephanie Brunner was, according to her FIS points,
the 13th-ranked woman in the race; silver medalist
Paulina Grassl the 29th. But rankings don’t mean
much in the physical world.
Grassl may have had the best strategy. “I did a safe
but fairly fast first round followed by a great second
run,” she said. “I dared to go all in the whole way
even if I didn’t know if it would work. I would never
had expected this, but I had faith in myself.”
Brunner also said she hadn’t expected to win and
vowed to “do my best to fight for more medals.”
“Brunner deserved to be on the podium,” said
Wagner. “She skied a good first run and didn’t make a
lot of mistakes. But the rest was basically attrition.”
The results flipped around pretty good from the first
run to the second. Grassl, as the prime example, had
been 10th after the first run.
On the first run, the course dissolved at the top,
steeper part of the trail. Though rutted, the middle
of the course held up well enough for an attack.
According to Wagner, Shiffrin “didn’t shift gears” and
finished the run fourth.
The second run was markedly different. The top held
up pretty well and the middle fell apart. At the bottom
a flush about six gates from the finish led into some
decidedly tight turns. “It was,” said Wagner, “a lot of
He said Shiffrin was on target to overtake the leaders,
and made it safely through the worst of the ruts, then
hooked a tip where there were no ruts.
The U.S. had one finisher, Foreste Peterson, who
clocked in 25th from the 67th start. Anna Marno did
not start. Jacqueline Wiles, Lauren Samuels and
Abby Ghent all went out in the first run.
Canada had Tianda Carroll in 22nd and Randa
Teschner 29th with Stephanie Marcil and Natalie
Knowles both being disqualified in the second run.
Wagner said there was not much the organizing
committee could have done to correct the situation.
High winds the week before had dried out the snow,
preventing significant compacting. When that storm
passed, he said, “it got hot, and the slope faces East
with no big mountain to block the sun.”
Men’s Downhill, March 2
In 1972, when Barbara Cochran won the Olympic sla-
lom, she wore bib No. 1. When her son got “1” in the bib
draw at Junior Worlds in 2012, it seemed a good omen.
Ryan Cochran-Siegle knew what he wanted to do:
correct a small problem at the first jump, stay well
ahead of the course, and execute better at the bottom.
Plus, that No. 1 bib gave him an advantage on a
warm day. “The track was as hard as it was going
to get,” he said. “We’ve been skiing these types of
conditions before and I had some confidence with
variables with weather. It wasn’t hard at all, but you
could push against it.”
A pair of Swiss who also had the advantage of early
start numbers notched the silver and bronze medals.
Ralph Weber took the silver from the sixth start, and
Nils Mani the bronze from the third start. There were
some later-starting racers who managed to excel,
including German Manuel Schmid, who finished fifth
from the 25th start, and Norwegian Adrian Smiseth
Sejersted, moving from 36th to eighth.
American Bryce Bennett had a quality run to finish
Stephanie Brunner collected the slalom gold with Pauline Grassl at left
getting silver and Petra Vlhova at right the bronze.
Ryan Cochran-Siegle powered through soft snow to add the downhill
gold medal to the Cochran legacy.