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WAWC at Jiminy Peak!


Paula Moltzan mid-recovery - Kranjska Gora Giant Slalom Run 2


Once in early 1971, my friend Robert and I visited Brodie, a now-defunct ski area in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts. It rained most of the day. Empathetic lodge people gave us plastic garbage bags, which with three torn holes became ponchos. We were twelve so it was all good, in current parlance. My mom took a few runs and packed it in for a book by the fire.

    Thus I smiled when I saw Sofia holding an umbrella, pensively inspecting the GS track down Podkoren 3 piste at Kranjska Gora. For all NY metro area skiers I intoned: “Now you shall know our torment, our strife. Yea, it is decreed that this weekend WAWC’s supreme beings feel the brown hills’ wrath. Bow to the Elements, princesses. Thou art civilians, jerrys even, if just for two days.”

    Honestly, IMO a WAWC meet in such conditions was uniquely interesting, entertaining—and absolutely a legitimate showcase for the athletes’ talents. Snow is snow. Skiing is skiing. If there’s snow, ski racers race on it.

    On a sour note, I was again peeved at how many competitors upon finishing didn’t offer the spectators/FANS even a cursory wave. Several swooped petulantly into the exit gate. Others unbuckled their boots, looked at the camera, and trudged off to the exit gate. I understand disappointment, etc., but admirers showed up in lousy weather to watch the race. Acknowledge them!

 

    General Impressions: Giant Slalom

    1st Grenier. 2nd Gut-Behrami. 3d Brignone

    Excellent race! Valerie repeated 2023’s victory—she’s working a 2023-24 GS flush, with a victory and positions 4,5,6,7,8 so far. Lara confirms she’s WAWC’s 2nd or at least 3d best any given day. Fede sent it but loose technique cost her; Petra can be inconsistent TTB and still T5 but that’s it. Mikaela did what she’s comfortable doing.

    Finishing 6th, Sara Hector hangs tough in season GS (ranked 6th) and in SL (5th). (she was EOS SL 9th last season. Some folks overlook her SL prowess. I did.) Thea Louise Stjernesund had consistent, excellent runs (6th&7th) to finish 5th. Good job! Also impressive were three racers who put down superb 2nd runs to move way up in the final standings from sub-par 1st runs: Brunner (3d fastest – 13th from 23d); Liensberger 2nd fastest – 14th from 26th); Aicher (4th fastest – 15th from 24th). Ripping 2nd runs blends pride, frustration, anger, and go-for-broke bravado, so often showing who’s really hungry. Of the GS T10 finishers, 4 were 18th or slower 2nd run. Valerie (4th&1st) and Lara (3d&5th) pushed all day.

    I admire the droll critical/rebellious touch, rare amongst high-profile athletes. Lara’s satirical umbrella for her TV bib shot shows why she’s one of my WAWC favorites. That and her nonpareil ski racing.


Valerie Grenier - Kranjska Gora Giant Slalom Run 2

 

 General Impressions: Slalom

1st Vlhova. 2nd Duerr. 3d Hurt

    It was a fine weekend. AJ Hurt broke through big-time (3d); Paula Moltzan confirmed her top-echelon status (5th); young person Chiara Rogneaux (21; second WAWC season) finished 8th, her best WC finish of five T30. Lena Duerr took her customary podium, and Petra again showed why she would rule Slalom if not for Mikaela. And, I must mention: TV camera showed Eileen Shiffrin at the finish line right after the DNF. She had a subtle smile, which may have partially meant, “Yep, kid. Before you were around we experienced Great Gorge.”

    Camille Rast, Katherina Huber, and Dzenifera Germane posted stronger finishes than recently. Rast (24), who I think will be EOS SL T10 by 2026, scored her second WAWC 4th place—both in Slalom. She’s had GS 3xT10 finishes as well on the senior circuit. In 9th place, Huber (28) is having her best WAWC season by far, with SL 3xT10 and 3x11th this campaign. Germane (20), scoring 12th place in her third-ever WAWC start, is one of very few Latvian WAWC skiers. Actually, I couldn’t identify any others skiing for the Latvian national team.

    AJ Hurt laid it down! Finished 3d from bib 38. 16th 1st run; FASTEST 2nd run (by 0.21 over Pogneaux). The big mucky-mucks who did their elite 1st run thing mostly went flaccid 2nd run. AJ held off thirteen competitors after taking lead by 0.81. Petra’s 2nd run was 1.22 slower than Hurt’s; Duerr’s 1.68! Hurt had a cleaner track from 16th, but annihilating two SL eminences proves she grooves. Just turned 23, she and Paula complete US team's SL triumvirate.


AJ Hurt - Kranjska Gora Slalom Run 2



6 January – Giant Slalom

S&SBL transmission/replay glitchy at first. Hung up every few seconds and spun. I yelled at the monitor. Restarted a couple times and it improved.

Sofia inspecting track holding an umbrella made it all okay.

Rain. Hard snow top third or so, then soft. Didn’t get outright slushy, I don’t believe, but definitely soft and unsettling to some folks.

 

NOTE: I’m making immediate notes while watching the runs.

AFS or BFS means racer was ahead or behind leader’s time at the first split. I note the margin in most instances. AS/TS and BS/TS mean the same, though 2nd and 3d not as frequent. (Busy commenting upon style, etc.)

Also, I mostly use first names. Probably should have added last names, but didn’t.


RUN 1

FEDE – Solid, composed. Undramatic. She seems content. We’ll see.

PETRA – Nice. 1st 0.02  Fairly aggressive. Confident

VALERIE – -0.30 to +0.35 halfway wide/scrub turn. Excellent half race.

LARA – Solid for her. Not fully aggressive but dialed for the conditions. 2nd -0.15

MIKAELA – Conservative; workwomanlike. +0.98. 5th. Snow not good for her exacting technique.

MARTA -- +1.02  Rote, safe. Off-form.

SARA – Okay. +0.79

Is track breaking down a bit?

MARYNA – Too slow, blobby. +1.23?

THEA LOUISE – Nice first half, lost speed. +0.82

Steve Perino thinks track holding up. Probably gotta get really crappy for these folks to quail.

MINA HOLTMANN – No big errors, just not fast. +1.20

SOFIA - +1.62  10th  Okay GS for her.

RAGNHILD - +2.26  She’s off-form. Poor kid. Not pushing it. Speed meets should perk her up.

ALICE - +1.34. Everyone’s losing time after first third. Alice and a couple of others led up top, then lost over a second rest of the way. Gotta be track surface.

Will be interesting to see 2nd run, with leaders on day’s softest snow. Unless temps drop in afternoon. Fun to see how the big shots handle Berkshire conditions.

FRANZI – Nice first split, a touch behind. Pretty scrappy but determined; some nice turns. +1.23

PAULA – Nice and aggressive, very competitive first half. +1.22

MICHELLE GISIN– Okay first split. Nice rhythm, strong. +1.59 

JULIA SCHEIB– Attacks. First place first split. Lost .30 2nd split; +1.26 for 10th or so.

ZRINKA – Solid. Again, looks good TTB, but speed’s not there. 16th place.

ANA – Strong first split. Committed but not fast.

Per SP, Slovenia fired main coach recently.

KATY - +2.42 Thrown around a bit.

BRUNNER – Nice beginning. +2.15

 

EMMA – Solid for today. +2.22 24th. She’s getting the hang of it.

 

PETRA’s leading. Looks confident; comfortable with track/conditions. 2nd run will be very interesting re how the Big People fare with touch skiing.


Kranjska Gora - Giant Slalom TV bib display 6 January 2024


GS RUN 2

 

PLATINO – Really aggressive out of gate, but she scrubbed big-time on one turn. 1.55.12

COLTURI – Fine, fine run. 1st by -1.45. For 17, she’s really on her way. Red Bull helmet.

LUCZAK – Looking good. -0.03 for 1st. Should watch this kid.

GRAY- Came out smoking; skidded out big time 5th gate or so. Fortunately okay. Overcooked it.

LIENSBERGER – NICE. Yeah. 1st by -0.81. Went for it, as she really can. Good job.

RAGNHILD – Aggressive; leading first split, then lost a quarter second, held steady through third. +0.48

EMMA – Strong run. +0.07  Bib 53 highest top 30

BRUNNER – Fine top split -0.40 Lost then got some back. First by -0.05. Good for her.

HAASER – Very close first split. Smooth. Okay, 3d by +0.24

BRITT RICHARDSON – Sharp top; slowed a bit. Okay run +0.41

AJ HURT – Aggressive, leading first split. Loses a hair, staying on it. 5th by +0.27. She’s looking okay, improving each race. Pleased with run. Keep it up, kid!

ANA BUCIK– Looks nice to me—first at 1st split. Lost a fifth at second then DNF, skidding out about 2/3 down. Pissed. Too bad. She’s not getting the breaks this season.

MARYNA – Nice run! 4th with -0.24. Confident, aggressive.

Excellent race shaping up. Very tight. Shows how as in motor sport, lower-order runners duke it out for points just as aggressively as do the Big People.

CLARA DIREZ– Nice start! Third of second up at 2nd split. Wow. Nice! 1st by -0.18. Aggressive; looked on edge but controlled. Impressive.

ZRINKA – Ahead first split -0.17. Beautiful skiing, but lost time bigly. Per SP, “overskiing.” +0.74 for 10th.

SOFIA – Wild start. +0.04 1st split. Going for it. 2nd by +0.04! Man, she’s fun.

MICHELLE – 0.03 up first split. Dropped almost a second by third split. 10th at +0.63. Safe run; didn’t attack.

ALICE – Really attacking. Wo. Up /43 first split. She’s on it; I see now she’s gunning this season. Enough BS. Hit it! 1st by +0.29. GOOD JOB.

SCHEIB – Crap. Downhill/right ski went its own way unweighting for left turn 6th gate or so. Heavy fall but okay. Disgusted racer. Careless? Not sure. May well be textbook example of shaped ski going rogue.

FRANZI –  +0.13 1st split. Reeling it in. Looking good, quite. Wow. 1st place -0.08. Well done.

PAULA -  Fast push-off, then exact same mistake/same place as Julie Scheib. Nifty recovery, didn’t fall. Big bummer.

MINA - .14 off first split. Lost another half by 2nd. Okay style run but slow. +1.13 for 15th.

MARTA – 0.36 up first split. Down by .05 third split. 3d at +0.21. Okay run for 2nd- tier racer, but not for her. Not attacking—or if so she’s not compelled. Gotta get on the horse season second half.

MIKAELA – Up by a third first split. Competent run, not attacking when needed. +0.19 for 3d. “Solid and safe” per Steve P.

THEA – Wow. Up by .70 first split. Holding it. Man, she’s flying. 1st by -0.51. Really good run. Aggressive, nearly on edge AFAICT. Very happy.

SARA – Wo. Same place Julia/Paula had issue. Losing time, but not much. 2nd at +0.19

VALERIE – Up by a third first split. Little off, but holding it. Up by .60 third split! 1st by -1.18. MAN, what a run! Holy smoke.

So far, season’s best race IMO. Three of WAWC’s very best on deck to try and beat superb mark by a racer who hasn’t achieved nearly their results, but who’s just as good when on-form. GS at its best.

LARA – Ripping. Up by a third first split. Losing a bit, digging. 2nd at +0.37. Man, Grenier laid it down! Holding off a ferocious LG-B 2nd run shows how well Valerie did.

FEDE – Wo. She’s on it. Up by .3 first split. Geez. Lost .25 by third split. In at 3d +0.51.

PETRA – Solid, control. Up by 41 first split; down to -0.16 , now +0.11. 4th at +0.61


Kranjska Gora - Giant Slalom podium 6 January 2024

Valerie Grenier 1st; Lara Gut-Behrami 2nd; Federica Brignone 3d

 


7 January – Slalom

RUN 1

Snowing lightly but steadily TTB.

-1 C  Good track surface, given conditions. Forerunner POV run showed how blurred goggle lenses get in snow/rain. Hadn’t considered that. Duh. Gotta be a difficulty, TSTL.

 

PETRA Sharp, methodical. Looks right on, to my eye. A couple wide-stance turn endings, but nice.  51.30.

LEONA .13 behind first split. Looks clean; quarter sec second split. Oh man. Head over heels at the finish. Did she make final gate? Looks like it; SP hasn’t said. Left let super-tweaked but ski released, at least. Walking it off. Timed at +0.26. Holy smokes. Per screen ranking, she’s in 2nd.

LENA. Nice and easy, smooth, but .30 behind first split.  .29 secondMaking it up. +0.26

Start could have been faster, but not bad at all, IMO.

SARA .31 behind first split. Holding at second basically. Looks solid; couple caught turns. +0.71 3d.

PAULA .33 behind; attaching, pulled back a tenth. Back to /33. Staying on it. Nice aggressive run. +0.80

ANNA SWENN .62 first split. Going okay, pulling back .20. Not bad. Should be competitive today. +0.97

MIKAELA .47 behind fisr split. Wo. Straddles just above 2nd split. Hmmm. Out of sorts in these conditions. Everyone has an off weekend. Petra can close points tight with 1st or 2nd.

MINA .62 BFS. 1.36 wnd. Very rote, hesitant. +1.96. Wo, missed last gate. Edge hung or something.

Track conditions really an issue. Honestly, I like this. As if WC was held in southern Berkshires. Every Eastern US suburban skier relates to these conditions—fun to see WAWC deal with them. Heh heh.

KATHARINA HUBER /17 BFS /23 second. Going at it holding steady. Who—lost .60 within a couple of gates on a wide/scrubby turn.

ANA .46 BFS  .54B Doing okay, but. +1.32  Crowd into it.

TRUPPE .56 Looking okay .75B Skis out. Damn.

LJUTIC Almost skied out. +3.3

ALI  +2.2

MICHELLE +1.47. 9th

KATY .34 BFS On it, looks carefree .49 SS On it, almost lost balance, but lost time. Not much, though. 6th at  +0.89. Nice job, kid! Compared to other folks’ apparent gaffes, Katy didn’t suffer. She’s back!

People all over the place. Guess I shouldn’t smirk. But enough people are nailing it, almost. So, interesting race.

FRANZI .5 BFS 1.032nd Strong, attacking. But easy to lose time. Track slowing/chopped?  +2.04  11th 

ANDREJA .26 BFS .79 BSS Looking good, snappy. Huh +2.14. Man, this track is knarly.

KATY GALLHUBER. .62 BFS. 1.08 VSS WMaking some up. +1.87 for 11th. Okay today.

HANNA ELFMAN .79 BFS 1.12 BSS. Fell right at 3d split. DNF. Shoot. Lost edge, tips crossed. Slid way out.

THEA LOUISE .50 BFS 1.40 BSS

DUBOVSKA

MEILLARD. +1.76 Okay

CAMILLE Bib 23 .52 BFS. .80 BSS. Looking good. +1.5  11th. Alright! On gas TTB. She’s gonna be really good within a couple of seasons.

SMART +2

ROSETTI – Looking fine but straddled halfway down.

JESSICA - .52 BFS. Committed, staying on it. 1.32 BTS +2.29 for 17th. First 2nd run qualification this season. Having a touch time.

EMMA EICHER - .18 BFS Fast kid. 58 BSS Nice! +1.88 for 14th. Getting the hang of the game.

DVORNIK –

LAMURE –

DELLA MEA

AJ HURT .26 BFS Nice, aggressive; a touch loose but regains. +2.09 for 16th.

LYSDAHL - +3.49 Missed cut. Too bad. Next meet will be better.

COLTURI – bib 55. +3.20 for 28th. Alright.


Petra - Kranjska Gora 7 January 2024

 


SL RUN 2

Very foggy at top. Doesn’t look like active snow. Track harder than for GS yesterday; still loose and wormy in the competitors’ opinion.

Pretty miserable weather, but winter can be that way.

 

BRECHE 1.51.48

LJUTIC Skied out

COLTURI – AFS, adding time . Yeah, up a second. -1.50 for 1st. Nice run, Lara!

LAMURE – LFS .28 Holding it. Wow. Very strong run. Fast and tight. +0.11

Having a clean track makes a big difference! People are attacking, confident with footing, I guess.

STJERNESUND – LFS .23 .52 up SS  off-pace lower third +0.77

WESTHOFF - .50 LFS. .91 up SS. Really nice. Oh no, big scrub! A few more gates, then lost it. Fell, DNF. From on-form to on-butt very quickly in this sport.

POGNEAUX – Up 1.17 SS This kid attacks, and is first by 0.68. NICE. Right on edge at bottom but held it tight. Man, these higher bibs are ripping.

Will be interesting to see the BP deal with chopped track. Very instructive race for me.

GERMANE – Latvian. BFS. Catching up SS. Even at third. Then off-kilter a few gates from end. +0.55 but could have had lead, I think. Very impressive 4/5 of run.

SMART - .32 BFS Lost just a touch SS. Really gunning. +0.96 for 5th. Not bad.

DUBOVSKA – Leading FS. .11 back SS doing well but scrubbed halfway, too bad. +1.25

GOOD - .57 BSS Looking okay, then late turns, losing time. +1.77

HILZINGER - .03 BFS. Looking nice and smooth,. Losing a bit but staying on it. +1.22 for 6th.

Slowly evolving. Displeased with run.

NULLMEYER - .24 AFS About even SS. Hanging in but losing rhythm. +1.16 for 5th. Last ten gates really tough.

SLOKAR – Wow, shot out of cannon, dicey, then gets it back. On throttle whole way. +.75 for 4th.

First-rate recovery from weight way in rear. Entertaining, fer shur.

AJ HURT - .58 AFS She looks sharp! Losing a touch but getting it back. Come on. Oh man! -0.81 for first. Pulled out the stops. This kid may be on her way. She’s stoked. Bib 38.

GRITSCH - .14 BFS .62 SS.  +1.88 for 8th. Rote run—track condition will work to AJ’s advantage. T8 at least for her today, I’d think.

AICHER - .11 AFS Smooth and strong—then suddenly onto her side. Wow. No visible error, skis just slipped out from beneath her, I guess during unweighting for a turn. DNF.

GALLHUBER - .14 BFS. .75 BSS Lost bearings a bit around halfway and per SP, she’s “on hand brake.” Rote run from there on. 9th place. Can definitely tell who’s gunning, and who’s looking to finish for whatever points she gets.

Almost everyone’s ignoring the fans. Pretty rude.

MEILLARD - .08 AFS .43 BSS Losing steadily. +2.17 for 13th. AJ’s looking good.

CAMILLE RAST - .14 AFS Really steady and strong. Losing just a touch, strong finish. +0.30 for 2nd.  Good job by someone who caught my attention last season. She’ll be a player next year.

MICHELLE - .36 AFS .17 BSS Solid, safe and 4th +1.09

BUCIK – Smooth, quiet .32 AFS .77 BTS, then straddled 4/5 way down. Too close on line. Drag. Tres bummed.

SWEN LARSSON Straddled fourth gate or so. DNF. Too bad—having a rough time. Per SP, has had injections for sore back. T5 regular last season.

HUBER - .95 AFS Looking really good. Excellent rhythm and pace, but losing a bit. +0.89 for 4th. She’s good. Coach at base shaking head—tool.

KATY - .94 AFS .48 ASS Leaking time, oh no, thrown off a bit. Getting thrown around. But +0.66 for 3d. To my eye, good job completing run.

MOLTZAN – Out fast and aggressive. 1.03 AFS. All gas. 95 ASS .33 third. +0.36 for third place. Not too shabby.

HECTOR – 1.19 AFS Strong, keeping on it. Losing a bit but within range. Ground it out +0.51 4th.

One more slower and AJ’s on podium.

POPOVIC – Coming out fast. She’s on itHanging right in there; Scrubbed some speed, then twisted off on turn and into 9th. Too bad. Gutsy run.

DUERR – 1.78 AFS Right on it, methodical. Big scrub but gritted it out big time. -0.15 for first. 

PETRA - .28 ASS Just holding on but lower half bold, fast. Brings it home -0.72 for first.

Well done, Petra! Had to put down a near-edge run and did. Excellent race.


Kranjska Gora - Slalom podium 7 January 2024

 

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