by Doug Haney, USSA Press Guru
My hotel in Kitzbuehel is above the finish. The red gondola cars near silently cruising by only 50 meters from the window. If you win Kitz, your name is emblazoned on a car. Ingemar Stenmark just passed. On Tuesday, I waited 25 minutes just to step into Daron’s. I wouldn’t wait three seconds to see a Super Bowl ring.
Kitzbuehel is on another level.
Coaches leave the Cortina hotel well before sunrise, the Team not that much later. Sunup in the Dolomites is spectacular. Julia snapped a photo his morning: http://yfrog.com/h8hc1dj.
Double downhill today my friends. Here’s the notes:
Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy – women’s downhill
- There’s two turns in the Tofane course you absolutely have to nail. Slip just one ski length outside the line and your podium chances are done. Here’s a map: http://www.cortinaclassic.com/images/pista.jpg. Watch the race, see who’s fast and then get back to me on which turns you think they are. Oh, and there’s some air under feet this time around. Flying is fun, unless you land in the nets.
- Cortina may very well become the Lake Lindsey of Europe. Friday’s super G was podium No. 9 (cue the Beatles) here for LV, her third straight win here. She put a tractor beam on the finish line in the final training run and won it by 1.37. Julia was second. It’s going to be a good day. Here’s a pic of the Tofane Schuss – thanks LV: http://tinyurl.com/6322jgx. It’s pretty here.
- The crowd is normally pretty small here, but there’s a band, a lot of furry coats and hats and a lot of “Bravo” coming from the stands. Plus play-by-play in Italian makes solitaire exciting. Last year in Cortina, I saw two Italians throwing down in a conversation that looked like an near fist fight over a parking spot. Hands in the air, tone rising and falling like a Cedar Point roller coaster – and then they started kissing cheeks. My Italian friend told me it was about the lunch they just had. Benissimo!
- Who had Leanne in your Fantasy Ski Racer top 10 yesterday? Good on you. Cortina is where she did her ACL a few years back, but she holds no bad blood. She loves this hill. She’s been on the World Cup three seasons now and every race for her leaves her wide eyed an begging to go run it again. Guess what Leanne, you’ll have five rides on it this week. Good times.
- Linds, Julia, Leanne, Chelsea, Stacey and Laurenne booted up and ready to roll.
Universal Sports has LIVE coverage at 4 a.m. ET via the internets and TV coverage during normal waking hours. Andiamo!
Kitzbuehel, Austria – 71st Hahnenkamm downhill
- I stood next to Hans Knauss in the super G finish for a bit yesterday. Good guy. He has a gondola too from 1999. His face said a lot when Bode ran. A lot of people want to see him win the downhill here…and he deserves too. There are few people in the world who love ski racing more than Bode. Close a hill anywhere in the world and let him go full bore solo for a day. He’d be on first chair, the last chair and have pockets full of PB&J’s so he didn’t have to stop.
- Hit Radio has the town wired for sound, it was bumping till long after I went to bed last night and fired back up at eight bells this morning. There’s a portable DJ booth that looks like a spaceship or an ’80′s ghetto blaster in the middle of town. Ever wonder what a 50,000 person dance party looks like? Come to Kitzbuehel.
- Franz “The Kaiser” Klammer knows a lot about this place…and the race hill that brings us all here. He should, he won it four times. The first time was 1975 and hay bales lined the track. Today we have at least three layers of net top to bottom. Pino and Lewey caught up with you via Skype yesterday: http://tinyurl.com/6y67xws. Even Klammer says this hill almost made him poop his pants the first time – only he didn’t use the word poop.
- It’s sunny, inspection is almost over and Adam “Bama” Korzun has smoothies and breakfast burritos waiting for the guys in the Team Mobile Nutrition Center – better known as the “Embassy.” Yeah, we upgraded last season’s rolling lunch box. The U.S. Ambassador to Austria Bill Eacho and his wife Donna hung out with Bode in it for a bit in it last night. Here’s some pics: http://tinyurl.com/62smyky. I’ll hit you up with some video later.
- Steven goes 7 and Bode drew 11. Shred’s looking to get nasty with more DH points and a shot at the traditional combined from bib 32, Tra from Squaw will surprise everyone but himself from 35 and Mr. Fish has 46.
“You can’t train for this,” says Klammer. He’s right, you can’t. We’re on at 5:30 a.m. ET with www.UniversalSports.com. 30,000 are already on the hillside, the other 30K just finished their first breakfast beer. No coffee this morning for me. I’m too amped.