Beaver Creek Birds of Prey World Cup in review

Posted By: The Ski Channel on December 7, 2009 9:21 am

There are three things that could sum up this past weekend’s Audi FIS Birds of Prey World Cup at Beaver Creek: The amazingly cold temperature, Swiss phenom Carlo Janka and fourth place. 

As usual, ‘Birds’ went off with a bang, as the World Cup Alpine tour swept onto home turf. Fans turned out in droves, including U.S. Ski Team athlete Marco Sullivan’s fan club and over 70 kids from the Park City Ski Team. There were also several diehard European fans in the stands, kitted out with accordians and leder hosen. All this while braving the cold temps—and believe us when we say cold. There were times when the mercury dipped well below zero and the athletes were forced to cover their faces with tape, to help prevent frostbite.

Of course, there were other aspects that characterized the weekend’s races. U.S. Ski Team stars and World Cup champions Bode Miller and Ted Ligety both nabbed slightly frustrating fourth-place finishes. Miller took fourth in the downhill while Ligety grabbed it in the GS. Both athletes skied well, but both made small mistakes which made the crowd collectively gasp. Of course, both athletes recovered amazingly from their near-falls, and stayed firmly on their feet.

And then of course, there’s Carlo Janka. Where to begin? The 23 year-old Swiss athlete is emerging as the top (and perhaps most consistent) skier on the World Cup tour. Janka swept all three races at Birds of Prey: The Super Combined, Downhill and GS. And the guy barely even trained this summer. Janka was sick with a virus and skipped most of the Swiss Team’s training camps.

Of his recent success, Janka told the press, “It’s fantastic. I’m just skiing. I had a great run. I don’t know why.”

Clearly, ‘why’ is now mattering, as the rest of the World Cup athletes will have to push it to reach Janka’s ranks.

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Other news from the weekend: Andrew Weibrecht: The U.S. Ski Team’s ‘War Horse’ is quickly rising to be one of America’s top skiers. Weibrecht had a solid tenth-place downhill performance at Beaver Creek two years ago, and on Friday, bested that by placing fifth in the downhill portion of the super combined. The Lake Placid native then went on to ski a solid slalom (a discipline he doesn’t favor, to put it mildly) and finished in the top 20, taking 19th and the top American spot. Weibrecht again remained solid in Saturday’s World Cup downhill race, placing 11th, making him the second top American at the event.

The young Dartmouth College student is known for his strength—as well as his size. Weibrecht is a relatively ‘demure’ 5-feet-6 yet weighs 190 pounds. In other words, he’s like a brick. Some have compared the young athlete to Daron Rahlves, one of the winningest downhill ski racers in U.S. history. Rahlves is 5-9, and won tk World Cups during his golden career. (Rahlves is also now poised to win at this season’s Olympic Games in Ski Cross.)

Other noteworthy news from the weekend came from French skier Thomas Fanara, who had a spectacular crash in the GS. Fanara was having a smooth run, but caught an edge which sent him flying upside down onto his head and then into the netting. Both of Fanara’s skis thankfully released, and the athlete was able to get himself up and off the course–to grateful cheers from the crowd.


Photo: Bode: Tom Kelly/USSA