World Cup: A Schladming Review

World Cup: A Schladming Review

By Greg Needell
Alpine Race Consulting
Published: January 27, 2011

As I was driving through Montana on my way to Jackson, Wyo., for the Western Region Elite Tech Series at Snow King, we were checking the FIS live timing to see how the Nachtslalom in Schladming was going. I know that hill and love that race. It is such a great experience being there and being in the hunt for a podium. It always seemed to elude us but we also always thought it was about to happen. Bode won a first run one time by 0.97 and then the snow picked up, just like this year. And Kostelic fell and got hurt right before Bode’s 2nd run causing a 20 minute delay. During that time, not one person slipped the course. There was no forerunner available and Benni Raich was winning the race. Take from that what you will, but that was the way we saw it. It might not have mattered but Bode did have a one second lead. But while Bode was waiting, at least 2 cm of snow fell, with no clearing of the snow over very slick injected ice. We moved from our places with some help from some other teams to try to move some snow when it was time. We did what we could but we could not get the layer of cream cheese off the ice. It turned into an incredibly peely layer that Bode could not grip on. He just slid around from gate 1 to gate 55. It was awful for him and for us to watch. But I will tell you, that the time that I grew all my respect for Bode Miller was that night. I was in the car with Phil McNichol, our Head Coach, when a short burst came from Bode on the radio. “Hey, Philly… you still there? Sorry man, I f-ed that one up.” I know the language is not what we expect here but it was the real word, used as he felt. I still remember that night, obviously, and I still know why Bode is important to me. It’s because of that type of ownership he has always had over his performance. It is his; it has always been his and no one else’s. Win, lose or draw.

So back to the Schladming race. I am totally impressed with the improvement the Swedes have made over the last 2 years. Byggi for sure has calmed down his swinging block motion and obviously rededicated himself. He is such a good guy and it is great to see him doing well again. I love to see him enjoying the leader’s box and also enjoying when he is overtaken by his teammate. Andre Myhrer and Mathias Hargin have started to block through the gate to a pole plant or a pole flick rather than letting the hand slide up the pole. Their hard work is showing…