World Cup According to Grande: Sestriere Cancelled

By Greg Needell
Alpine Race Consulting
Published: February 1, 2011

What do I write about now? Sestriere was canceled over the weekend and the Chamonix races were not good for the USA boys. The obvious answer must be the X Games and John Teller winning the gold in skiercross? Well, that's not really what this column is about, but I want to give him a big hand. I was John's coach as a junior in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., until 2002, and I want to say that I am very proud of him and his success of late as well as his perseverance through some tough times. Great job John with some kudos to John's parents Deb and Karl, who have stuck by him all the way. We all know it has not been smooth sailing but it makes it even sweeter to succeed.

The Chamonix downhill was clearly owned by Didier Cuche, who seems to be just hitting his stride at the advanced age of 37. He won again, and likely will again too. His next downhill stop is the Garmisch World Champs after the SG and GS in Hinterstoder, which will just ramp him up for Garmisch. He is very impressive and I think the best in the air I have seen. He owns the lead in the DH standings by 65 points over Michael Walchhofer, who was on fire early in the season. But what amazes me is that Cuche hit his stride right on cue with Kitzbuehel—which leads, albeit indirectly, to the Garmisch World Championships.

What about Garmisch for Cuche? Is it a good hill? A bad hill? It is a changed hill over the last few years so that does matter and he does not like the Freifalle jump at all. But, here are the stats: Three podiums with one win; and on the new course, an eighth place. But with the upper start operational it can play into his hands and I, for one, will pick him to win the big prize in Garmisch this month.

Some other observations are not really on the normal path for this blog. But Joachim Puechner (AUT) has been working himself into the conversation to make the Austrian World Champs team in DH. It might not be the reality but he has challenged the status quo in Austria. Also. Dominik Paris (ITA), who has pretty much toiled on the World Cup Speed circuit for years as an also-ran, has made his big breakthrough and will likely squeak into the Italian selection for World Championships. He will need to back up this result to be sure of his status on the team for the foreseeable future.