Georg Streitberger

Travis Ganong

American scores first Alpine podium in Kvitfjell; Bode Miller 16th

Leave a comment

What is the future of U.S. men’s Alpine skiing?

Travis Ganong consolidated his place going into the next Olympic cycle with his first career World Cup podium finish at the first post-Olympic race in Kvitfjell, Norway, on Friday.

Ganong, 25, took third in a downhill, .12 of a second behind co-winners Kjetil Jansrud of Norway and Georg Streitberger of Austria.

“This is a really big step in my career,” Ganong said. “I’ve been slowly building up the last four years on the World Cup tour and this last month or so I’ve really been finding some speed. Now I’m at a point where I’m really relaxed and having fun. The good skiing comes out when you’re relaxed and letting the skis roll.”

Ganong’s breakthrough came after a solid Olympics. He finished fifth in the Sochi downhill Feb. 9.

“I always told myself I’d get to this point,” Ganong said. “It was just a matter of time. I’ve had enough time now racing all these hills and I’m comfortable. I’m also stronger than I was last year and I’m more fit. I’m not burnt out at all. Usually at this time of year people are tired and right now I feel like I’m just starting out the season.”

He’s looking to be the face of U.S. men’s downhill skiing when Bode Miller calls it a career. Miller, 36, finished 16th on Friday. Olympic super-G silver medalist Andrew Weibrecht took 54th.

The other veteran U.S. Alpine star, Ted Ligety, is sitting out this weekend. He does not usually race downhills. Another downhill is slated for Saturday, followed by a super-G on Sunday.

Jansrud kept up his form from winning the Olympic super-G in Sochi. The Norwegian who tore an ACL at last year’s World Championships had not won a World Cup race in nearly two years.

Streitberger, 33, hadn’t finished first in a World Cup since Dec. 4, 2010. Countryman Matthias Mayer, the Olympic downhill champion, briefly lost balance near the top of the course and skied out.

Norwegian Aksel Lund Svindal placed fifth and clinched the season title in the downhill for the second straight year, with two races to go.

The race for the overall title is tighter. Svindal earned 45 points to draw within 13 of leader Marcel Hirscher of Austria. Svindal is better in speed events. Hirscher excels in technical races. Hirscher is trying to become the third man ever to win three straight overall titles and the first since American Phil Mahre from 1981-83.

There are four speed races and four technical races left this season, meaning the overall competition could come down to the final stop in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, in two weeks.

Kvitfjell Downhill No. 1
1. Kjetil Jansrud (NOR) 1:05.72
1. Georg Streitberger (AUT) 1:05.72
3. Travis Ganong (USA) 1:05.84
4. Erik Guay (CAN) 1:05.95
5. Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) 1:06.09
6. Guillermo Fayed (FRA) 1:06.10
7. Romed Baumann (AUT) 1:06.13
7. Otmar Striedinger (AUT) 1:06.13
9. Silvano Varettoni (ITA) 1:06.22
10. Didier Defago (SUI) 1:06.23
10. Dominik Paris (ITA) 1:06.23
16. Bode Miller (USA) 1:06.44
18. Steven Nyman (USA) 1:06.47
21. Marco Sullivan (USA) 1:06.55
47. Erik Fisher (USA) 1:07.17
54. Andrew Weibrecht (USA) 1:07.61
59. Jared Goldberg (USA) 1:07.86

Video: Olympic soccer star fails on ‘Happy Gilmore’ golf shot

Andrea Fischbacher, 2010 gold medalist, left off Austrian Olympic Alpine team

Leave a comment

When Austria secured the maximum 22 quota spots for its Olympic Alpine team, there figured to be few surprises when its roster was announced.

Instead, there was a shocker.

Andrea Fischbacher, the Vancouver Olympic champion in the super-G, was not among the selections to the world’s strongest overall squad.

Fischbacher, 28, seemed like a lock to make it judging by her pair of Top-10 finishes at last year’s World Championships in Schladming, as well as respectable finishes in the Beaver Creek downhill (8th), as well as the two Cortina d’Ampezzo downhills (10th and 11th). Austria, is in the midst of an even stronger season this year. Her best super-G finish of the season, however, was 17th in Beaver Creek, and she skied out of the final race in Cortina on Sunday, which likely impacted her not being chosen.

Without Fischbacher, Austria will still quite the formidable unit in Sochi. Of the 22 skiers named, 16 have made at least one prior trip to the Games and four have won medals. Marcel Hirscher is a medal contender in at least three men’s events, while the women’s team boasts podium potential in Anna Fenninger, Marlies Schild and Elisabeth Goergl.

The team was dealt an unexpected blow when Hannes Reichelt, the only Austrian to win a World Cup downhill this season, was ruled out of the Games with a herniated disk in his back. Joachim Puchner has been named as his replacement..

Austria’s entire Olympic team will be made up of 130 athletes.

Benjamin Raich, a two-time gold medalist in Torino in 2006, will make his fourth Olympic appearance and has been elected to be the Austrian flag-bearer at the Opening Ceremony in Sochi.

Here is a look at their roster:

Women:

Anna Fenninger – 2010 Olympian

Elisabeth Goergl – 2006-10 Olympian, 2x medalist

Nicole Hosp – 2006 Olympian

Cornelia Huetter

Michaela Kirchgasser – 2006-10 Olympian

Bernadette Schild

Marlies Schild – 2002-10 Olympian, 3x medalist

Nicole Schmidhofer – 2010 Olympian

Regina Sterz – 2010 Olympian

Kathrin Zettel – 2006-10 Olympian

Men:

Romed Baumann – 2010 Olympian

Max Franz

Reinfried Herbst – 2006 Olympian, 1x medalist

Marcel Hirscher – 2010 Olympian

Klaus Kroell – 2006-10 Olympian

Mario Matt – 2006 Olympian

Matthias Mayer

Benjamin Raich – 2002-10 Olympian, 4x medalist

Joachim Puchner

Philipp Schoerghofer – 2010 Olympian

Georg Streitberger – 2010 Olympian

Otmar Striedinger

U.S. Olympic Alpine team announced