All eyes in the ski-racing world this week are trained on the Bavarian Alps, where something of the sport’s Super Bowl is underway. Ski racing might not get the love it does in Europe (like live network coverage) but the World Ski Championships are still worth tuning in. They happen only once every other year and this year the resort of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, home of the infamous Kandahar downhill, is hosting the 12-day event.
It’s been a bumpy ride so far for the Americans. Things started out strong earlier this week when Julia Mancuso added a fourth Championship medal to her neck with a silver in the super G, behind Austria’s Elisabeth Goergl but ahead of Germany’s Maria Riesch, the world’s current World Cup leader. On Thursday, the 26-year-old from Squaw Valley then rocketed into second place during a downhill training run ahead of today’s super combined comp. But during the real thing, a lackluster downhill run combined with a solid slalom run plopped her in seventh overall. Austrian Anna Fenninger won over Tina Maze of Slovenia and Swedish star Anja Paerson, who took third.
The men haven’t had much luck so far, either. Bode Miller had the makings for a spectacular run in the super G before a gate ripped a pole out of his hand (thankfully not taking his shoulder with it). But wait! What’s this? He’s charging it! Until, well, he lost his balance, stood up at the finish and got blown back into 12th. Ted Ligety, who won the three World Cup giant slalom races in a row this season, didn’t even finish. Ach Scheisse.
And Lindsey Vonn?
The world’s No. 2 hasn’t seemed so sure on her feet after being rattled with a concussion last week. Vonn, who won the super combined in December, has complained (along with numerous other racers) that the Kandahar course is too bumpy, icy and dangerous. On Friday France’s Marie Marchand-Arvier lost control, crashed and needed help off the slope during the downhill portion of the super combined. Vonn has still mustered a top-ten finish at seventh in the championship super G but didn’t finish the super combined.
Meanwhile on Saturday, it’s on to the marquee event, the men’s downhill. So far we Yanks are sitting in third place overall with Mancuso’s lone silver contribution. That’s where we ended up two years ago at the championships in Val d’Isère, France, but a lot can change with more than a week of racing ahead.
--Tim Neville will be reporting live from the Bavarian Alps on the World Ski Championships.