By Greg Needell
Alpine Race Consulting
I did a short update piece on the cancellation today and what it might mean to the overall globe race. Obviously, Lindsey would have liked to race today to keep the pressure on Riesch, who is obviously struggling mentally and physically with fatigue and maybe a total mental breakdown. Her body language is awful and her reaction to coaches in the finish area is even worse. She looks like a beaten puppy. And going into slalom tomorrow, Atle Skaardal who is the women’s World Cup Race Director for FIS, is already talking about the races tomorrow, (Friday) being a challenge. Meaning the rain will be there all night and change to snow tomorrow which is a very tough situation. If it stays rain, and the visibility is OK, they can salt or put chemical on the surface to harden it and make it a fair race. But if it changes to snow and there is fresh snow on the surface, it is likely that chemical will not work and break the surface, further jeopardizing the next day. It will be a tough decision to make, especially with the overall still on the line.
The men have GS tomorrow and that globe is also on the line. Ted Ligety leads by a healthy 77 points which puts Svindal and Richard in tough positions where they will have to take risks to catch him. And he will have to get shut out. 15th is 16 points and then those two could only win if one were to win and Ted were 14th or worse. My point is that it is a tough task and if Ted stays within himself he will score enough to take the title. Weather could play a role of course and everyone in the draw will be hoping for an early number. As I wrote that, Svindal drew number one, Richard 3 and Ted number 4. That should make for some great drama headed into the race and then for the second run.
This GS hill is a tough one and bad weather and visibility will cause problems. The start, if you watched the downhill race, is on the top of the Steilhang where the left-footed double was with the deep belly ad where all the skiers were having trouble before dropping down the main pitch. It is very steep there right out of the start and left foot fall-away for the first few turns and then right foot fall-away coming off the pitch with a small compression. It is very tough for the first 8 to 10 turns. After that it flattens but it is a winding trail and takes some skill to set a course on it that has some flow and rhythm. There is also a tough left foot section as the trail bends back to the finish that has a strong fall-away. Many a run has been lost there in the past. Ted was 10th here in 2007 and Svindal won the race. But Aksel was trying to win the overall (which he did) and Ted was not yet the Ted that we now know in GS. I can see this as an excellent hill for Ted.