By Greg Needell
Alpine Race Consulting
Before I start in on the Super Combi in Garmisch today, I need to wish my wife and family a Happy Valentine's Day. Shannon was kind enough to marry me almost 15 years ago and has stuck by me in some tough times and a lot of time apart. And my son Coen has seen it all. He has grown up against the back-drop of ski racing his entire life and seen my career grow and change and flow within the sport. I love you both and thank you for all you do for me and our family!
So, all the sentiment aside, the men raced their Super Combi today with an interesting outcome and a field that was lacking some of the Combined favorites. With Kostelic and Janka on the sidelines, I am sure Svindal saw the door open a crack. He is the defending champ in this discipline from Val d'Isere and the Downhill track suits him fine. It is turny in sections and has a fast sustained speed. And with his lead over Feuz, I am sure he felt confident he could hold him off. But the others who were back a second or more could still take this away from him. Aksel served notice at the beginning of the day that he would be the man to beat and it proved to be true. Innerhofer also put down a good downhill run but really was even more impressive with his slalom run. I have seen "Inner" be very fast in slalom in person but never on as demanding of a hill as in Partenkirchen. Nor have I seen him sustain his speed and consistency for even a whole run of training. But he got it done. And I would have to say the same thing about Peter Fill. We once we training all together in Westendorf, just down the street from Kitzbuehel during Kitzbuehel week and we were amazed with the speed Fill could bring to slalom. But a few injuries later and adding a few years and pounds, Peter Fill just has not seemed as good in slalom as he had in the past. As a younger racer, he was a great threat in Combined but not so much of late. It all played out in a very warm climate in Garmisch which is really not all that unusual. But the race gave us some excitement and saw a man determined to win that particular race, and win he did. And for Peter Fill, it is nice to see him win a medal, as I am sure he feels relief in having done so in his career. And Innerhofer, what can you say? He had 3 chances and scored a medal of each color.
So as they move along into a day off and the Team event and tech events in the near future, I need to wonder out loud how the hills are going to hold-up? The weather looks nice and chilly at night but still with the day-time highs getting well over the freezing point. And while they are not predicting that plus 10 degree Celsius type weather in the near future, they still might be seeing the freeze and thaw type conditions for the next week which might prompt the FIS to move start times earlier in the morning if they can convince the TV partners to follow that lead. If not, they could find themselves in the situation where they will need to use chemical on the track for the slalom in the second runs. The GS is on the Garmisch side on the bottom of the DH track so it should stay in the shade for the most part and the track should stay firm.