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Post-Noel notes: Levi - Val d'Isere.



Federica Brignone - Mt. Tremblant GS


28 December Note Aggregation

 

    Past six weeks were a major drag. Arrived home 14 November from UK vacation; came down with bronchitis a few days later. Certain we caught it on plane. Symptoms lasted for a month – basically in bed for a week or so; lingering fatigue, nose, etc. until mid-December. Then a couple weeks of general ennui, which hits me a few times a year. I’m worried about 2024. And frankly, WAWC isn’t one of Humanity’s priorities. I’ve had other things on my mind, realizing there are big decisions to make. But I’m not a curmudgeon—yet—and a fine season’s unfolding. So here are the scrappy notes I took during each race, preceded by some general impressions of the competition so far.

    First, however, what unfortunately aren’t impressions. Several racers have been injured, some badly. This is a wretched aspect of all sports; ski racing’s speed combined with the athletes’ relative absence of specialized protective gear—helmet and back/torso impact-inflatable vest all they have—makes them vulnerable to paying steep prices for slight errors.

    Nina Ortlieb, an exceptional Speed talent who at 27 has already rehabbed two major knee injuries, fractured her right tibia and fibula—apparently in three places…Good God—during a training run at St. Moritz. She was EOS DH 9th last season, after missing all of 2022 and most of 2021. She was geared for another T10 this year and IMO T5 candidate for her prime, maybe better.

    Stefanie Fleckenstein took a 60mph, violent twisting fall at Val d’Isere DH finish line. I saw it live—instant and awful. A run’s ending, no big deal. Then…per her IG, “…dislocated knee, multiple tibia fractures, potential ligament damage.” Bindings didn’t release. Most disturbing crash I’ve seen since Kajsa Lie 2021.

    Elena Curtoni suffered a composite fracture of the sacrum bone during the St. Moritz SG. It was a fast, slightly airborne crash. Long, hard slide into netting—one of her skis shot skyward and landed pretty far down the hill. Sacrum bone is at the spine’s base; I guess it can heal without surgery. Elena will be 33 in February, and I imagine she’s debating her WAWC future. A hurt back’s to be pampered at any age. At least I think so.

    Maria Therese Tviberg – Fracture in knee and in tibia; ACL reconstruction. Killington GS. Can’t find replay on Peacock or elsewhere. Saw the race live, and don’t recall her fall looking too violent—though I think the final part of it may have been off-screen/obscured. Total bummer.

    Zoe Zimmerman – Haven’t found an update on her. Nasty fall at Courchavel—left boot hooked gate; ski popped right off from the force. Obviously in great pain. Hope it’s not too bad, but sure looked like it could be.

    Wishing these women the very best for recovery of body, and for elevated spirits. Easy to type. Damn.

    These are only the injuries I’ve heard of, which happened after the race season began. People are hurt during the off-season as well. Three young American WAWC skiers, Ava Sunshine (ACL in September), Nina O’Brien (broken leg a few days before Ava), and Katie Hension (ACL and MCL in June) are hors de combat entire 2024 season. I imagine athletes on every team at each level are hurt, every month.

    So, feeling superficially helpless about these young people’s misfortune, I shift attention to those racers who are whole and descending as planned.

    First off, Federica Brignone is a goddess in her own right. At thirty-three, her consistent excellence has her in the WAWC pantheon’s inner circle, IMO.

    Indulge me for a minute. Over the last eight full seasons—2016-2023—if you add EOS Overall ranking, with lower scores better (duh), only Shiffrin (21) tops Brignone (45). Petra Vlhova’s third (50) and Gut-Behrami next at 60—though with two seasons’ ranking drastically lowered by injury and one by covid/flu.

    Fede may not rule her own galaxy like Mikaela does, but her technical skill, aggression, and panache create superb entertainment for all ski racing fans.

    Mt. Tremblant was a tour de force. 2 December dialed-in 1st and 3d fastest runs, a straight-forward win from Petra’s 4th and 1st, and Mikaela’s 5th and 2nd. Overcast with soft snow, but visibility okay. 3 December a different story—very foggy with snow and wind. Conditions definitely affected some racers, but that’s part of the game. 6th after the first run, Fede was fastest top-to-bottom on the 2nd. (See Graph Analysis on fis.com. Segment times and positions for top 5 finishers for each run in each race make it easy to see who gained/lost time where.) Brignone had a wild ride in the sketchy climate. Fearless; off-balance in spots; fast. Most impressive IMO was her 2nd run dominance over Gut-Behrami (12th), Shiffrin (18th), and Vlhova (23d). Bad luck re wind may have cost them time, but Lara, Mikaela, and Petra skied by the book while Fede hung it out.

    Copping St. Moritz DH 3d (0.02 behind Sofia’s 2nd) and SG 5th the day before, gave her the meet’s fourth-highest points score. Then came Val d’Isere, with 8th in Saturday’s DH, and a firm (0.44) SG victory with 26 DNFs of 57 starters. Big People including Gut-Behrami, Bassino, Shiffrin skied out, from several points on the track.

    Not Fede.

    GS or Speed, foggy or sunny; track straight-forward or devious, she’s on it. (Lara must step up her DH big-time and certainly not miss another SG gate if she’s going to take EOS Overall 2nd.) Right now Federica Brignone’s the WAWC cat’s pajamas, IMO the sport’s most fun person to watch. If she sustains her career through 2026 and does well in the Worlds and at Cortina Olympics, astronomers’ eyes will pop at La galassia maggiore Brignone.

    Sofia Goggia may contest EOS Overall 2nd right to the wire. So far 1st in DH and in SG points, a solid 9th in GS shows her amped for the Overall podium. Petra’s exclusively Tech, as is Sara Hector (Overall 6th so far) and Lena Duerr (10th). Conny Huetter’s (8th) a Speed gal. Michelle Gisin (7th) and Marta Bassino (9th), both of whom are going okay but have much room for—and expectations of—improvement, are the EOS Overall contenders after Fede and Lara, with Marta running 3 Disciplines and Michelle all four. Sofia ranked EOS Overall 3d and 4th in 2017 and 2018 when Alpine Combined was run, and finished 5th last season. 3d is doable this year only if Michelle doesn’t crank it up, which I think she will, and if Fede’s or Lara’s Speed faulters. Their GS is much than Sofia’s. I’ll call another 5th for Sofia; 4th if Michelle doesn’t ramp up.

      So far this season, Mikaela Shiffrin’s Tech tactic is to go about 85% first run, which is always good for SL T3 and GS T6. Then 2nd run she turns it up to her maximum comfort level for that day/track, which brings home SL T2 and GS T3. Except for season’s first GS (6th) and first SL (4th), this MO has worked. Petra confirmed at Courcheval that only way to beat Mikaela in a WAWC Slalom race is to ski at her limit and put down a fearless, error-free run 2nd, and then to have Shiffrin not respond in kind, barely.

    Her Highness doesn’t need to ski Tech at over 90% in order to win the Overall globe, which is her primary aim. AFAICT, Mikaela always skis within her comfort zone, whose Tech parameters guarantee EOS SL T2 and EOS GS T3. That’s just the way it is. Petra is the only one who can beat her straight-up in Slalom. Honestly, IMO it’s a coin flip who is better in top form. Issue is, Shiffrin doesn’t make mistakes. Bigger issue, she doesn’t need to risk mistakes.

    In Giant Slalom, Petra, Lara, Fede, and Sara Hector can best HH more than once in a season—no one else can. Again, Shiffrin rarely skis Tech all-out; her comfort level on any given Tech day/track is all she needs to operate within. She’ll push harder 2nd runs, take a bolder line, but she doesn’t hang it out because why risk it, when she’s assured of at least a podium unless three rivals ski at their limit? That said, Mikaela pushed it 2nd run at Courcheval, per below.

    Petra Vlhova’s on the Tech warpath. FWIU, she’s definitely not contesting Speed this season. Smart to focus upon her Slalom gift, and to grind out GS points. (Petra GS 2018-2023 seasons: 6 wins; 11x2nd/3d; 19xT10; 5xT15; 4xDNF. She’s a GS machine.) So far this season she’s been poetic—including Levi second SL DNF when she nervously broke meter.

    Courcheval 21 December Slalom is a WAWC archetype. Shiffrin 1st and 2nd; Vlhova 2nd and 1st trading top runs, with 3d place almost 2 seconds behind Mikaela’s second step finish. Mikaela ran her MO 85% solid 1st run; Petra scrubbed a turn halfway but reeled it in from +0.38 to +0.17. Then Vlhova threw it down 2nd run! As technically flawless SL as anyone can ski. But as fast? Shiffrin’s victory was within her range, no doubt—but she’d need her 96%+ magic.

    Not quite there. -0.09 first split, +0.02 second, +0.20 third, +0.24 at the line. She made no obvious mistakes. Perino said her turns were a bit rounder but cleaner than Petra’s. So a technically sound run, I imagine as good as she was capable of/willing to execute. And Petra beat her. So, I stand by saying it’s a coin toss between these two at…well, most races. Shiffrin is unflappable, and can evaluate/adapt to any snow condition. She has ingrained experience to draw upon that no one else has. But 8 out of 10 races in fine conditions, Mikaela needs her A game top to bottom to beat Petra. Vlhova’s occasional errors—whether losing focus or not pulling off committed aggression—rarely costs her a win (or a finish). Very rarely. What a bright star is Petra Vlhova! Hope she competes for at least another five seasons or so. But as I’ve said, she’s got inclinations well beyond ski racing. A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. Complicated women rule.


Petra Vlhova - Courcheval SL


    It’s intriguing to see some of 2027’s leading talents coming into focus. Pretty clearly, 2027 season will be transitional, because surely a half-dozen or more of today’s first-rank competitors will retire after the 2026 season, and possibly several before. Then 2027 will see people coming out of retirement to give it another go on a more level playing field. (I’m less than half kidding.) I plan to address this fully post-season, but basically 2026/Cortina Olympics are, as I see it, the final bulls-eye for Shiffrin, Brignone, Gut-Behrami, Goggia, and Mowinckel. (Except for Mikaela, age is the key factor. I suspect Shiffrin will hang ‘em up while fully physically intact and the World at her feet with post-career options. Perhaps she’ll stick it for another season or two—but I bet if she gets hurt or determines her ability has weakened at all, she’ll immediately retire as history’s greatest/most dominant individual sport athlete.)

    In no intentional order, here are several mid-twenties and young’uns looking good.

    Zrinka Ljutic – Croatia. 19 years old. Overall 13th so far. 4xT10, 3xT15, DNF from 8 starts. Excellent 7th at Tremblant’s Sunday GS. 5th after 1st run; 13th for the arduous 2nd run better than GS big guns Shiffrin, Vlhova, Bassino, and Hector. Levi SL 9th with 8th and 13th runs a fine finish as well. In 7th place after Courcheval 1st run, Zrinka had an excellent 2nd going before straddling about 2/3 down. Steve Perino (skiandsnowboard.live commentary) highly complimented her skill, says she’s approaching the top level. I definitely agree.

    Zrinka in my Croatia pre-season Feature:

WAWC 2023 EOS Tech  (Overall 41st)

SL 12th  --  11 starts – 3d; 3xT10; 15th; 29th; 5xDNF (arrrghh!)

GS 40th – 8 starts – 19th; 25th; 6xDNF/Q  (grrrr)

“If Zrinka runs another full WAWC SL in 2024, I think she’ll hold steady EOS SL T10/12. Too early for a real breakout, IMO.” “Well-positioned to begin a Tech rampage—EOS T10 both Disciplines—by 2026, and true stardom if that trajectory’s angle holds for another few seasons.”

    If she cuts down the DNFs, EOS SL T10 in the bag I’d think. She skies beautifully. Definitely one of WAWC Slalom’s two or three biggest talents 18-23 years old, or so. On a small team—has a lot of support, and media attention.

Leona Popovic – Croatia. 26 years old. SL 4th place so far. Slalom specialist.

    Leona in my Croatia pre-season Feature:

WAWC EOS SL 2022 (Overall 51st)  & 2023 (Overall 27th)

2023 SL 6th – 11 starts – 2nd; 7xT10; 2xT20; DNF

2022 SL 14th – 9 starts – 2xT10; 4xT20; 21st; 2xDNF

“ 2024 look for her in the 4th- to 9th- place season-long tussle.”

    Unbalanced turn for severe speed scrub-off 1/3 down caused an unfortunate 30th at Killington after a 5th place 1st run. Leona’s superb 2nd place at Levi’s Sunday SL—5th place 1st run; 1st place 2nd run—showed this racer’s chops. Attacking from start to finish, she took the lead by over a second. Mikaela squeaked out the win by 0.18 with a 4th best 2nd run after lying 2nd at the turn. Popovic is really good.

 

Ali Nullmeyer – Canada. 25 years old. SL 6th place so far; SL specialist.

    Ali in my Canada pre-season Feature:

    2023 SL 17th – 11 starts – 8xT20; 22nd; 2xDNF

    2022 SL 11th – 9 starts – 3xT10; 3xT20; 3xDNF/Q

    “If Canada has an EOS SL podium within the next five years, it’ll be Ali Nullmeyer’s.”

    “I think Ali will 2024 EOS SL T9/11. She slipped last season, but should reclaim a handful of T10 finishes, cut down DNFs to 1, and steepen her trajectory to 2026 EOS SL T5/6.”

    Nullmeyer is a major talent. She won the 2017 Nor-Am Overall title, with SL 1st and GS 2nd. So dominant in Tech, the 2nd, 3d, and 4th Overall folks, all 4-Discipliners, couldn’t top her point total. A double ACL tear cost her 2018; 2019 was basically a recovery season. But she’s on-form now. 2x6th at Levi

 

Emma Aicher – Germany. 20 years old. Overall 29th so far; 4 Disciplines.

    I gave Emma short shrift in my pre-season Feature “Riotous Youth.” “Emma’s WC top-30 ranking in three disciplines bodes…well? I’m reluctantly skeptical. Her desire, work ethic, touch on the snow, etc. may be great, but I think she’d have more top-15 WC finishes.” Gee, I’m a nice guy—expecting a bit much? Feeling inadequate? The kid’s 13th in DH, 19th in SG; GS 42nd and SL 42nd not on the postcards home, but she was 6th at St. Moritz DH. (24th at Val d’Isere, just two DHs run so far.) Of two SGs, she has a 10th at Val d’Isere and DNF at St. Moritz. Not bad. Tech’s been a chore with a SL - 23d and 3xDNF; GS - 16th; 3xDNQ; DNF. Though points finishes for young people are always good.

    For what it’s worth, my pre-season critique included “Emma’s Speed strength makes me wonder if she’ll settle into the fast lane after a couple more WC seasons.” Definitely sticking with that. I imagine the DSV will continue grooming her Tech, pushing to build a multi-Discipline engine. But I say Aicher’s geared to rip. She was stoked at St. Moritz—rightly so, slotting 6th +0.43 from bib 23 and holding it. Aggressive line smoothly run. Beat some big names.

    Emma’s a spritely soul, seems to be having fun. She’ll be a top Speed contender within a few seasons. It feels good to be wrong.

 

Moving along. Horrid how remiss I’ve been re posts.     

Great to see Kirstin Lysdahl and Katarina Gallhuber back after injury and skiing well!

More on come-backs next post, as well as some folks having a trying early season.

Now someone totally new for me.   

 

Julia Scheib Austria 25 year old. GS 12th so far.

    Don’t recall even seeing her name before this season. She’s run all five WC Giant Slaloms, and has a 5th; 7th; 20th; 2xDNF. Her 5th in Lienz smoked a bullet-proof track down which many top names were cautious and perfunctory. Bib 22, Julie hit the 2nd run’s 2nd fastest time, improving from 14th. (Shiffrin won the race with 1st and 17th fastest.) Very impressive.

    31 WAWC starts and 32 European Cup starts. Not a lot for 25 years old. She did well in 2018 and 2019 FIS Junior Worlds and FIS generally 2015-2021, with starts in all disciplines. So she’s been around. Seems to have a fairly serious demeanor, though cheerful on the leader’s chair. Per IG, ACL injury late fall 2021, so that could explain her low recent profile. Someone to watch. I sense she’s very focused upon expressing her significant talent. Hopefully she’ll either run Slalom to round out Tech, or hit Speed. Though if still getting her feet after ACL rehab, a single strong discipline is wise. Rip it, Julia! You’re gonna be in the running for a while.

 

    Okay. Gotta get this post up!

    Here are my unadulterated race notes, often very thin because most of the past month I felt like a melted fiberglass duck.

   

LEVI  2xSL  11-12 November – Meet 2

 

11 November

Oh yeah, Petra! 2 x fastest runs. Totally in command/control, AFAICT. Man, she may be jazzed to gun for both Tech globes, keep the statement strong and tight.

LENA DUERR. Elite SL player. Definitely settled; seems calm, goes about her business. Runs ranked 2nd & 8th. She’ll hang around

 

Katy was so relieved/happy after run 2. Best race she’s laid down since March 2022 Are SL (1st place)—and unrecognizable from last season. Katy’s back!! Smooth, strong, confident. Attacking with touch. Wonderful seeing her ski this way.

 

Mikaela – Usual solid run. Auto-pilot set at 85%, sufficient for T5 every 1st run. Then dials up 2nd run as needed.

 

LEONA POPOVIC – 10th.  21st and 4th. Put down big-time 2nd run. I peg her SL T6/8. Solid 1st race. Had to pull 2nd run heroics, which shouldn’t be necessary ongoing.

 

Slalom racing’s mechanical subtleties escape my untrained eye, but I appreciate beauty. As Mikaela said, Petra “put on a master class” at Levi—for three and a third runs. 

 

Major late-starter kudos

MELANIE MEILLARD – 7th place from bib 30. Consistent: 10th and 9th for runs 1 & 2. Excellent!

KATHARINA HUBER – 8th from bib 29. Off my pre-season radar. Put down 5th fastest 1st run; fell back to 16th for 2nd run. Outstanding top-10 to begin season. Sunday will help to clarify her ability.

MARTINA PETERLINI – 17th from bib 45. Totally off my radar; I guess a B-Team promotion.

LARA COLTURI – 22nd from bib 65. Back from injury. 17 years old. Should be in ruling class within four seasons. Too early to predict greatness at

Hot second runs to move way up

ALI NULLMEYER – 20th 1st run; 3d 2nd run, to finish 6th. Wow. Ali blistered run 2. She’s definitely on track for EOS SL T10 within a couple of seasons, I think. Canada’s best young SL prospect.

LEONA POPOVIC – 21st 1st run; 4th 2nd run, to finish 10th. Like Nullmeyer, 1st run below personal standard, and 2nd slightly above.

MARTINA PETERLINI -- 29st 1st run; 5th 2nd run, to finish 17th. I hadn’t heard of her before this. Had a nice spell in leader’s chair before Popovic skied. Bib 45. We’ll watch her tomorrow.

 

12 NOVEMBER

 

“To finish first, first you have to finish.” One of Jackie Stewart’s rules, and Petra’s 2nd run proved it.  

 

Mikaela – Again, standard issue MS good enough to win unless someone else truly excels. Rankings 2nd & 4th.

Popovic- Really good race. 5th and 1st.

Duerr – Another tidy performance. 4th & 5th.

Hector – Solid SL 3d and 15th. She could be 2xTech player this season.

Holtmann – 2x8th. 28 years old, she’s been hanging around, and if stays healthy and consistent, EOS T10 SL could be in the cards. Well-deserved.

Nullmeyer – Another solid race. Slipped a touch 2nd run – to 13th from 8th – but these are elite placements.

 

KILLINGTON – 1st GS on-slope notes

Alice put it down!

Shieb very good.

Rast – Camille’s one of my favorite younger racers. Not the greatest run. Didn’t look aggressive.

GOGGIA – Nice, Sofia!!

LOVBLUM –

MEILLARD -

COLTURI – Red Bull at 17 years old.

B. RICHARDSON – Oh yeah.

A.J. HURT – Yeah. Very solid. Sparky kid, time for her to turn it on, and she is.

DVORNIK – Disappointed.

DIREZ -

Surprise, IMO, improves any sporting competition. Whether in team or individual competition, unexpected occurrences/results

 

Post 1st run quick impressions:

Numbers are 1st run rank and bib)

Alice (1–9)and Sara (2-1)right on form/potential.

Lara (3-7)jjno surprise. Will have clearer picture after Speed weekend. Could be best year since 2016.

Marta solidifying confidence. Not yet unloading, but looking fine for very early season.

Mikaela somewhat cautious/rote, maybe letting it build naturally. Mood a touch subdued, IMO.

Fede right there per usual. Her demeanor and execution are so complete.

Valerie Grenier may be solidifying her consistent T10 ability.

Petra put down a good run. Want to see her hammer 2nd.

Julia Scheib totally off my radar. Superb run. If she finishes T10 today and T12 for North American swing, we’ll have someone new to watch.

Britt Richardson excellent. I slotted her 2nd tier in Canadian team. Superb 1st run; if holds T10 then really good for 20 year old.

Maryna Gasienica-Daniel has solid skills and reputation—

 

    Excellent snow conditions—cold and aggressive; a bit windy but FMICT competitors weren’t much affected. Killington’s Giant Slalom was a top-notch race, with a couple of unexpected (at least for me) results.

    First off, Lara Gut-Behrami is in top GS form. If her Downhill is just as sharp out of the season gate, and her Super G is in its usual podium shoo-in rank, then another EOS Overall 2nd is in the bag. Only Shiffrin is in LG-B’s 3-Discipline technical league. Lara’s DH is better than Mikaela’s; MS’s 4-Discipline capabilities basically guarantees her the Overall cup, as she’ll race Speed as necessary to ensure it. Lara’s such fun to watch. I hope she sticks it through 2026 and retires with 50 WC wins and a few more Olympic and Worlds medals. Before that, however, look for possibly two Discipline titles this season, with MS’s Slalom points being the difference for Overall.

    Alice Robinson laid it down! Not as dramatic as Lenzerheide 2021, and that’s a good sign. Drama’s unsustainable. Not a win, but took 2nd place comfortably with two solid runs, splitting Gut-Behrami and Shiffrin after a fastest 1st run. So, a superb professional performance. She could really be on her way.

    Mikaela’s safe, controlled, standard excellence is almost bizarre. She just skis at 85-90%, with guaranteed Top-5, likely podium, and a win unless another competitor skis perfectly. Her Speed schedule will determine season point total and Overall title margin of victory. Even if LG-B dominates GS and SG all season, or if Sofia or Fede likewise owns two Disciplines, unless MS is injured (which won’t happen), then WAWC EOS is a contest for 2nd place. The Killington GS was contested under ideal, aggressive snow conditions, with enough wind to make folks think. 2nd run’s later starters dealt with major-league ruts. Mikaela just skied down for 3d place. Rote.

    Of the other three top finishers we would expect—Hector, Brignone, and Vlhova--

   

26 October Slalom Killington

RUN 1

Run 1

Mikaela – Relaxed; gonna win it.

Petra – A touch nervous/hesitant. We’ll see on 2nd. T5 no sweat.

Wendy – Workwoman-like run. In good shape.

Katy – No! Skidded out onto her side; similar fall as last year. Shoot!!

Lena – Settled, confident. Semi-late bloomer; gonna have a fine career finish.

 

Interesting

Gallhuber – Brutish, gutted it out.

Rast – Nice start. 18th place; serviceable.

Smart –

Aicher – DNF halfway down. Too bad. Was in pretty good shape.

Meillard – Strong but conservative. Skiing to make the flip. Okay for early season.

Stoffel – Slow.

Good – Scrappy but faster than it looked.

Dvornik – Okay

Filser – Sloww.

Rosetti – Really nice. 32nd to 12th.

Lamure – Slow

Della Mea – Wow.

Brunner – Solid. 22nd

Alphand – DNF

Lysdahl – DNF. Mistake halfway down; straddled right at the end.

Peterlini –

Zimmerman – Fell early and ripped way fast down the top pitch. Vivid display of track’s steepness.

Colturi – Wow. The real deal. 57th to 24th.

Hurt – Careless DNF. Aggressive but reckless and undisciplined.

 

26 October – Killington SL

RUN 2

 

Mid-race takes.

Slokar and Huber very good.

Rosetti doing it! Out of nowhere for me. Man, young’uns are exciting.

Meillard – Real nice. Hanging onto lead.

Colturi – Okay

Brunner – Very aggressive. Lost time halfway through, big time. Man, could have been better.

Rast – Yeah!

Nullmeyer – Wow.

Huber – Really good.

Gritsch – Good start, lost it bottom half.

Slokar – Blazing start but fell back. Then reeled in Huber by 0.21.

Rosetti – Really sharp and quick. Took lead.

Hector – SL not her thing. 0.50 back, so not bad at all. Interesting how the young specialists can take

Della Mea – Going for it. Looked faster than she was. 0.74 back.

Gisin – Casual start, but getting aggressive. Just isn’t on-track yet, though speeding up.

Ljutic – Gutsy start; lost almost .50 right at the end.

St-Germain – Man, she’s quick. But dropping speed. 0.72 back.

Dubovska – Impressive start, but dropping speed on pitch. Really lost it.  1.89 back. Really pissed.

Moltzan – Ripping , then slid big time beginning pitch. Just didn’t keep it consistent. Big error, but still came in 4th at that point, and smiling.

Popovic – Wow. Way fast out of the gate—super aggressive. Over a second up at first split, but way too fast to keep it together.

Holdener - .99 at first split. Awkward on the pitch, but keeping lead. Man, took lead by 0.37. Very impressive. What a pro.

Vlhova – Nice and steady. In a groove, loses it, then finishes 1.04 up. WOW. Shiffrin’s gonna have to burn it.

Duerr – Big-time pressure.

Shiffrin – 2xfastest runs.

 

MT. TREMBLANT 2-3 Dec – 2xGS  4th Meet

 

Watching via FIS real-time stats. Skiandsnowboard.live is down.

 

Disappointing how many don’t acknowledge the audience. I understand they’re keyed up after a weak finish, but come on.

 

Richardson – Excellent run!

 

PLATINO – Ouch!

MOERZINGER – Off radar. 2xoff at 3d gate. Very tricky/abrupt fast-left turn on steep start.

This is going to be very interesting. Even if everyone is warned, setting up for that gate’s gonna be tricky. *Word out by 8th skier or so.

LYSDAHL – Nice job. Lost time on the flats,

GRAY – Very aggressive. Hanging it out. 0.02 behind. A few telling errors, maybe of fatigue.

HAASER – Nice strong start. DNF. Skied out—too fast.

SCHEIB- Very good. Lost a bit at end, but looks like an emerging steady contender. Serious kid.

BRUNNER – Nailed it. Aggressive, controlled, theatrical.

MOWINCKEL – Smooth run.

WILD –

 

LJUTIC – Very poised. Nice run! Took 1st by 0.25

LIENSBERGER – Good start. Lost a bit on the flat. Tied with Brunner.

STJERNESUND – Excellent! Totally stoked. Nailed tricky gate but just. Took 1st.

MELESI – Good day.

ROBINSON –

GOGGIA – What a racer. Takes lead.

BASSINO – Solid, solid. Ramping up.

SHIFFRIN – Puts it down. Lead by 0.75

VLHOVA – WOW. Into 1st. Petra’s GS is on.

FEDE – Goddess in her own right.

 

3 December

Run 1

Lara – Basically railed it

Valerie – Sector 3

Fede – Sector 3

Mikaela – Railed

Marta – Sector 3

Petra – Railed. Man, she is fast! 1st place

Sara – Slow

Paula – Slow

Marina – DNF Sector 3

Ana – Slow

Alice – DNF  Start gate hiccup; S3

 

ZRINKA – Fantastic. This kid’s got the goods.

 

3 FEB GS RUN 2

 

LOEVBLOM – Very solid. Fast kid.

MOLTZAN – Wild ride. Full throttle—

AICHER –

GRAY – Gutsy, charging. Hangs it out!

KAPPAURER – Really good. Balanced and quick.

MELESI – Roberta’s finding her groove.

Bad wind. Not a fair race.

BUCIK – Soldiered down, on/off but holding steady.

LYSDAHL – Really confident and strong, though thrown off a bit. 4th place. Progressing!

RAGNHILD – Thrown around a bit

HURT – Oh yeah!! Wild, nads-out run. 1st place.

BRUNNER – Solid.

KATY – Very fine; but

DIREZ – Superb! Aggressive and commanding.

FEDE –

 

EMMA – Solid 1st half, but low and DNF

 

Man, I was out of it while watching this race. Sharing in spirit of full disclosure. And if I re-watch have something to react to. Blah.

 

St. Moritz – 2xSG & DH  8-10 Dec Meet 5

Flat light.

KIRA – Workman like.

Johanna – Fast and pretty clean. 1st

Kajsa – Fast, but a bit cautious. Off line a bit, but upbeat.

Stephanie – Nice! Clean. 1st 

Alice – Way aggressive. A bit messy; 2nd.

Conny – Man. 1st. Really good line; clean

Sofia – Nads out, per process. 1st by a second.

Elena – Committed. Spectacular crash. But okay.

Corinne – Cautious. Uncomfortable. 2 seconds back; 4th place.

 

9 Dec DH

 

    Fede puts down a hopping bib 1 run but Mikaela, with one pretty bad error costing about 0.40 I’d say, sneaks in the win by 0.15 over Sofia, with Fede third 0.17 back. Conny reels in 4th from nearly a second behind half way. Mirjam Puchner solid 5th, and Emma Aicher an excellent 6th! Superb race.

Perfect conditions through first 20 racers or so, then clouds/flat light, and wind picked up. Race called after 35 starters. Results count, since half the field got off. Keely Cashman IG peeved results count, I imagine particularly since a few later starters—eg. Aicher 23 and Bassino 21—made Top-10. Can’t blame Keely. Visibility no worse than Friday’s SG, though I guess report was for heavy weather to roll in quickly and safety concerns, etc. Jury pulled the plug. Bummer, but safety first.

    I’m seeing how each weekend there are 3 or 4 folks with a hot hand, a couple of Big Guns off their game—LG-B and Ilka in DH—and then a few 2nd tier folks (Venier, Puchner) fill out T10 and perhaps a 3d-tier/young’un (Aicher) sneaks in.

    Observations:

    Venier (SG 6th & DH 7th), Puchner (SG 10th & DH 5th) and especially Conny! (SG 2nd & DH 4th) are getting right in tune. Austrian Speed is on. (Nici Schmidhofer at the finish, counseling her buds and probably carousing later.)

    Michelle Gisin DH 8th an encouraging finish. SG 20th; hopefully can hop up 12 or so spots on Sunday SG.

   Corinne Suter skied a cautious SG for 8th and a cautious DH for 11th. (DH super-tight: Ilka 14th at +0.90). Corinne just doesn’t hang it out. Really seems to need everything just right, and probably a faster track.

    I sense this with Lara as well. She copped SG 3d (+1.02) and DH 13th (+0.89). Lara’s competitive in DH, but her superior technical chops are offset by her size—she just doesn’t generate as much speed as even slightly larger people. Anyway, she’ll be fine and back T4 Sunday SG.

 

Man, this is weak. Something must have been distracting me, though nothing fun. I will watch this race again and comment. And pretty sure some of this race was noted on my work computer, which I often use and transfer to personal Mac because screen is larger. Will check work files this weekend. Blah blah.

 

VAL D’ISERE – DH

Definitely missing a fair amount from this. Must be at work. Will check and insert.

You see why I wasn’t the best student. There are other reasons, but this provides clues.

 

MOWINCKEL -

HAELEN – A bit off-kilter in spots, but fast. Track looks really hard-core.

GAUCHE –

HUETTER – Aggressive! Tight line, big air.

GISIN – Great start. Mistake off jump, and that was that. Bummed.

FLURY – Tight, fast. A moment off a jump, but 1st by 0.22.

LARA – Almost a perfect run. Really tight line. Mass issue?

PUCHNER –

LIE – Not sharp. Decent time but hesitant line, seemed uncomfortable.

ESTER – Does her thing. Just not fast.

CORINNE – Fast out of gate. Lost a bit down. Looks cautious. (Tested other ski brands off-season?) She’s out of sorts. Still one of the best.

ILKA – Solid run. I guess a bit dirty on some turns, but not bad.

 

BELLA – Okay. Scrappy, but decent verve.

PIROVANO – A gamer. 1.54 off pace.

AGER – Disappointed. Slow.

NUFER – Nice first half. Nice! Into 6th.

 

FLECKENSTEIN – Horror crash. Right over finish line. Left leg savaged. Help too long to reach her, IMO. High-speed; skis didn’t release.

DURRER – Very solid  24/14. Someone to watch.

RAEDLER – Real nice! Soft on big jump landing; tight line. Stuck it all the way 7/27

The drone noise – do athletes hear it?

KEELY – Not too shabby. 28/38?

 

SUNDAY – SG

Twenty-six (26) DNFs

 

    Eight starters in, I noted “Shaping up to be a doozy. This is fun!” Bib 5 Robinson and Gut-Behrami had back-to-back missed gate DNFs, but then Huetter (-0.93) and Brignone (-0.87) ran consecutive scorchers and I figured this was on big-time. It was, but much differently than I’d hoped: twenty-six DNFs from 58 starters!

 

PIROVANO – Solid. Tight line; a bit chattery but fine run. She thought it so-so.

WEIDLE – Bounced early. Fast turns, but some off-line. 0.06 back.

STUHEC – Way low on early turn, cost 0.40 or so. Not sharp; had her good points. 1.23 back.

AICHER – Off balance early but nice recovery. Pitched forward then stood up straight; threw her off close to a second. Reeled in 0.70 by last split. 0.11 back. Would have had lead. Very impressive run.

ROBINSON – Very aggressive. In lead—skied out! Looks like skied inside gate.

LARA – Artistic form; railed it for 2/3, then…skied out!! Too low for a fairly quick left-footer. Damn! Careless, Lara. Skied out at Lake Louise last season. Gonna cost her.

HUETTER – Nice. Aggressive, good line. A touch scrappy in a couple spots, but 0.93 ahead 

FEDE – Classic run. She’s in her own class; aggressive, tight line, fast, and still enough micro-scraps to entertain. Wow. LG-B’s got her hands full for Overall 2nd. Fede’s on a rampage!

0.87 ahead.

Track speeding up? We’ll see. Who knows what Lara would have put down. But I sense she’d be behind Fede and Conny, ‘cause they’re bigger/faster.

Shaping up to be a doozy. Sofia, Corinne, Mikaela yet to come. This is fun!!

BASSINO – Skied out! 10th gate! Wow, really off it. Perhaps too fast? Very visible, not a big direction shift. Man, three DNFs on missed gates.

Alice M-D mentioned after Fede’s run how course reports have filtered up-slope by now. Lara and Alice’s tricky gates known, but looks like Marta just skied way too low on a traverse.

Replay shows a glitch right when passing gate, perhaps caught in a rut. Threw off her balance and couldn’t recover in time to set up next gate. Shoot.

GISIN – Upright, just doesn’t seem comfortable. Decent line. +1.32 into 3d.

PUCHNER – Tentative; arms out, uncomfortable. +2.84 Wondering if fitness is playing a role. Puchner has fine tech skills. Also, I guess, it’s bravado. Who hangs it out? “Only the brave” indeed.

CORINNE – Fine at top, scrubbed off big time on a couple mid-track turns. She’s lost something, or is struggling to regrasp what’s always been in sight. She won here three years ago, now +2.03

SHIFFRIN – Fine start, about 0.50 off pace, then skied out same gate as Robinson. Holy smoke.

Passed the inside flag on the outside. Gate looks very clear and forthright on replay from uphill, but racers must be carrying too much speed to correct if a bit off. Man. Big names making big mistakes. I wonder if, as first American, she didn’t get course report?

Politics of course reporting.

Fede reacted to Mikaela’s gaffe almost as if she’d fallen. Genuinely empathetic to top competitor/rival’s misfortune. Fede’s an angel.

GOGGIA – Classic Sofia. +0.59 into 2nd  Winded at bottom. Not feeling up to par, but suspends health from starting hut to finish line. She and Fede are WAWC’s uncontested prima dua. This sport’s in a golden age—a handful of wonderful characters who are universe-class ski racers.

RAGNHILD – Conservative. Made it down  +2.46  9th

First 15

LIE – Excellent run! Consistent, decent aggression, good line. +0.44 into 2nd! Happy kid.

I’m thinking track is holding up—fast and fair. Lower starters have a better T10 shot than usual. Could be some real surprises.

HAELEN – Kind of scrappy. Conservative, but decent rank for now. +1.71  6th.

MIRADOLI – Season’s first start. Got down. +3.29  14th.  Welcome back!

FLURY – Scrappy, almost sloppy in a spot, but hung in for fine finish. +1.82  8th.

Speed upper-echelon’s mediocre level is often good for T15 from 50+ field.

GAUCHE – Doing okay, but skied out 3d gate from finish.

J. SUTER – Way off

ESTER – Skied out 5th gate or so, up by -0.13. WTH? Come on. PR may be right, she’s too flighty.

BELLA – On edge, hung in until 1/2 down, then skied out. Looked almost deliberate. Maybe figured she wasn’t in control and didn’t want to risk a fall. Shoot.

Rough track. Alice M-D said this many DNFs not uncommon for SG, but so many ski outs? Better than crashes, of course. Will check a few Val d’Isere SGs and see if that’s the case. I’ve never seen so many folks missing gates, especially not so many top racers.

2021 – 7 DNF

2017 – 9 & 11 DNF

AGER - +3.02

17 finishers of 24 starters.

GRENIER – Doing fine, then skied out same gate as Bella. Val had more speed, though—looked as if she couldn’t have made it

** Look at 28, 50, 37, 58, 48,

FEST – Skied out by 6th gate.

CLEMENT – Chaotic but hanging on. Skied out 3/4 down. Incroyable.

RAEDLER – Fine run going but big-time scrub-off 1/2 down. +3.23  16th.

I think Ariane’s going to have her best season, maybe by far. (17th SG)

NUFER – Way back

DURRER – Gnarly fall three gates from finish. Fell above gate and slid into it high speed. Got up and seems okay. Whew.

MELESI -

 

If you're reading this, thank you.

I will improve. ()()( ' _ ' )()()



 

 

   

   

 

 

   

 

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