World Cup According to Grande: Garmisch Men’s Downhill

By Greg Needell
Alpine Race Consulting

The boys took it to the hill today and put the effort out there you would expect of a World Championship race. I had the good fortune to watch most of it before I went out to training here at Mission Ridge this morning. We had some nasty weather with high winds but got some good drilling and slalom training accomplished.

Greg Needell

Greg Needell

And, as I said, I had a chance to watch the boys battle the DH track in Garmisch today with some success, some failure and a lot of fatigue. No matter the outcome, those boys laid it down on the hill today and left it all out there. It makes Ivica Kostelic's move all the more understood as he pushes for the tech medals and then the World Cup Overall after the Championships. He made a good call based on future fatigue. A great move based on his goals. The same for Janka really. Carlo has been fighting viral infections for a couple of years now and is trying not to get rundown. Again, it is a great move for him to take a little time off.

All of that being said, today's race showed to me the incredible grit and effort these guys put into every run on every day. Look at Aksel's run today. He obviously was pushing it the whole way. He knew he had mistakes but would not give in. He out flew the landing on the Freifalle and maybe hurt himself there but stuck it out through the finish and spun-out in the finish area and hit the pads hard. He had a CT Scan and I do not know anything beyond that. He is reporting the knee is OK but he had some pain after landing and that pain led to the crash in the finish because he would not put the left leg down hard enough to stop. He was totally out of gas and did his best, which was to lay over on his side and spin into the bags. But my point is simple; every guy looked like that in the finish. There was 100% effort and racing out there today and it did the sport proud. I enjoyed every second I was able to watch and I was entirely engrossed in every run. The boys were on the top of their game and the hill shone as a star in its own right. It was fantastic stuff.

This, in all honesty, makes Erik Guay's win all that more impressive. He is a great skier and downhiller with a ton of experience. We all know that. But he was out for a whole month earlier this season and was coming in with very little recent experience and confidence to draw on. He also has little of a teammate stable left for today. He was there with rookie Ben Thomsen and with veteran Jan Hudec. That is not a problem but he is used to being a part of a big and strong team. He has a great staff there with him and Johno McBride and the rest of the staff deserve a lot in bringing him the gold. I am sure they are deep into it at Canada House or "Peaches" in downtown Garmsich by now. Congratulations boys! Congratulations to you, Erik, you definitely deserve it!