Austrian Walchhofer breaks U.S. stranglehold on Birds of Prey
November 30, 2007 —
If you need a snowstorm – and unquestionably Colorado has been desperate for some flakes of late – all you need to do is wash your car … or schedule a downhill race.
Beaver Creek ran a World Cup downhill race Friday, and sure enough, the snow started falling just prior to the 11 a.m. start, prompting race officials to use the bad weather start, about 85 meters below the normal downhill start.
Austrian Michael Walchhofer, who earlier this week joked about ending America’s four-year win streak in the Birds of Prey downhill, got serious on Friday, edging American Steve Nyman by five-hundredths of a second.
Walchhofer, an 11-time World Cup winner and the silver medalist in downhill from the 2006 Winter Olympics, won in a steady snowstorm with a time of 1 minute, 13.74 seconds.
Nyman, of Provo, Utah, who got on his first-ever World Cup podium with a third-place finish in the downhill here last year, climbed up a step to second this year with a time of 1:13.79.
Starting 8th, Nyman had a wild ride - at one point skiing on one ski - but he held on to lead the race until Walchoffer came down with a nearly flawless run out of the 16th spot. Switzerland’s Didier Cuche was third with a time of 1:13.84.
American Bode Miller, who won the downhill here last year with Nyman in third, went down on one hip near the top of the course in the Talon Turn on Friday but recovered to finish sixth (1:14.10).
Andrew Weibrecht, a 21-year-old from Lake Placid, N.Y., started 53rd and nailed the downhill run of his life, jumping up to 10th and giving the U.S. three in the top 10. On Thursday, Weibrecht earned his first-ever World Cup points by finishing 14th in the super combined event.
With snow falling more heavily for the earlier racers, the lower start trimmed about 27 seconds off the running time.
“You’re always not happy because it’s not the full race,” Nyman said of the shortened course, “but I did well on it (Thursday in the downhill portion of the combined, finishing second), so either way I’m comfortable.”
Less comfortable for him was his brief balancing act on one ski in a section of the course called the Abyss that may have cost him the race.
Otherwise, though, Nyman said he was pleased with how he skied and didn’t think too much about his bobble.
“Miss that red gate, wherever that is,” Nyman said of his thoughts at that critical moment. “You don’t really think. It’s more just go and get over it, that’s it. I hit what I wanted to hit, I did what I wanted to do, and I made the turns where I wanted to.”
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