Bode Miller today at Beaver Creek (photo Paul Bussi)
BEAVER CREEK, CO – Olympic champion Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) won every interval except the top to finish fourth in the final training run before Friday’s legendary Audi Birds of Prey downhill. Austrian Hans Grugger paced the field in 1:45.37 as speeds increased nearly three seconds from Thursday.
Sunny skies and hard snow decreased the times, but elevated the athletes’ excitement for the classic Audi FIS Alpine World Cup weekend in Beaver Creek. Friday’s downhill will air Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on NBC.
“This is where we hope to be at this time of the week,” said Miller, who finished 8th and 11th in the first two training sessions. “You can’t afford to give away any time on this course if you want to win here. I’m never that confident on these hills, but I know I have the speed to win.”
Miller attributed the highly turny course set to the difficulty of this season’s downhill, causing skiers to be technically sound the entire course in order to find speed.
“This hill is technical, you have to be able to move dynamically, which is certainly one of my strengths,” he said. “If I can stay on edge and not make any mistakes, I can be right in there. It’s running fast right now. Coming out of Talon turn, it’s as difficult as I’ve ever seen it and that sets you up for the next four turns. If you screw it up, it’s almost impossible to ski it well.”
Travis Ganong (Squaw Valley, CA) was 30th Thursday after posting his first top-10 finish on a World Cup course during Wednesday’s training run.
“The more times you get up on this hill, the better,” said Ganong, who tried a different line and a different pair of skis Thursday. “It’s not as same as it was before, but I like turny. I like those high speed turns and being really active. It links really well if you ski it right.”
Also in the U.S. Ski Team downhill lineup Friday is Olympic super G bronze medalist Andrew Weibrecht (Lake Placid, NY) and two-time Audi Birds of Prey podium finisher Steven Nyman (Sundance, UT). Both were fast in the second training run, yet fell victim to the higher speeds and had minor crashes Thursday.
World Cup winner Marco Sullivan (Squaw Valley, CA), Erik Fisher (Middleton, ID) and two-time World Cup giant slalom champion Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) will also start. Ligety opted not to start the final training run in favor of a day of rest before a weekend of three straight races.
Prime race viewing is available for free in the Red Tail finish stadium with a short shuttle ride from Beaver Creek Village. The first racer will take to the historic Audi Birds of Prey track at 11 a.m.
Fans can be a part of the Birds of Prey story on the Audi Birds of Prey Facebook page and via Twitter by tagging #BCWorldCup.
Audi FIS Alpine World Cup
Beaver Creek, CO
December 2, 2010
1.Hans Grugger, Austria, 1:45.37
2.Christof Innerhofer, Italy, 1:45.55
3.Mario Scheiber, Austria, 1:45.59
4.Bode Miller, Franconia, NH, 1:45.60
5. Didier Cuche, Switzerland, 1:45.68
30. Travis Ganong, Squaw Valley, CA, 1:47.43
41. Marco Sullivan, Squaw Valley, CA, 1:48.31
49. Erik Fisher, Middleton, ID, 1:49.28
64. Tommy Ford, Bend, OR, 1:50.73
68. Tim Jitloff, Reno, NV, 1:52.74
71. Andrew Weibrecht, Lake Placid, NY, 1:56.75
DNF: Steven Nyman, Sundance, UT
DNS: Ted Ligety, Park City, UT