Travis Ganong returned
from a training crash
to cash in a career-best
There were better North American results than Miller’s 29th. Some how, at age 30, Jan Hudec, between injuries and cancellations, had never raced at Kitzbuehel before. Without doubt the oldest rookie on the course
he said he had little option except to go for it.
“Visibility,” he said, “was horrendous. It was snowing so hard the lines were covered. I just had to put my
nose it there.” He finished 10th, his best result of the season.
In 11th was teammate Erik Guay, both of them sporting new — non-yellow — speed suits created just for
the event by Audi Canada. “It was a tough day indeed,” said Guay, not even trying to mask his frustration. “I
hit the powder a bunch of times. I’m just going to forget this race and move on.”
And in 12th was Travis Ganong, who said he felt right at home in the powder. “They did a great job of taking
the snow off the course,” he said, “It was a drag race.”
That it was, and one that required both taking risk and making no mistakes. The top 23 finishers were all
within the same second. Marco Sullivan was 17th, his best result of the season.
Slalom, Jan. 22
It was raining for Sunday’s slalom. A lot. The official word from the organizers read: “Due to heavy precipitation and warm temperatures the superstructure at the finishing line has collapsed. A provisional replacement has been constructed for today’s slalom.”
The work crews were busy, ironically, watering the course with fire hoses and throwing “salt” on the line.
It was nasty business, but it was Hahnenkamm weekend and, as we said, pride was at stake.
Turns out the irony, nasty business and damaged pride were just getting warmed up. News spread quickly
that Marcel Hirscher might not have really won all those races that made him our cover boy last issue. He
had been called on a straddle at Wengen in the first run of slalom when he had led by a huge margin. Apparently Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung — which is also one of the main sponsors of the Austrian Team
— received an anonymous tip that Hirscher had also straddled at Zagreb, and possibly at Adelboden, too.
Austrian head coach Mathias Berthold confirmed that, yes, they had noticed when reviewing video that
Hirscher had straddled at Zagreb. With just 15 minutes to file a protest it was more or less a moot point, but
Kitzbuehel was all abuzz with this revelation. (Not completely moot as it turns out because a contrary FIS rule
says a protest can be filed up to 30 days if evidence warrants.)
The first Austrian out of the slalom start, Hirscher charged straight at the very first gate. Even in slow motion
replay it was difficult to tell which side of the gate his ski went on. He appeared to hit it squarely in the middle
of his ski tip. The gate judge let it go and the Croatian coaches called for a review. There was not — as the
NFL says — enough evidence to over turn the ruling.
No matter. After one run there was still an Austrian in the lead, the resilient Mario Matt, 0.01 ahead of Kostelic
with Hirscher in third by two-tenths. Italian Cristian Deville was fourth, but more than seven-tenths away; and
Jens Byggmark, in fifth, was well over a second off the pace. Fourteenth place was two seconds back.
The wide separation wasn’t that odd, considering the conditions. The water laced into the hill was not setting