Four U.S. women finish in the top 30 at Birds of Prey
BEAVER CREEK, Colorado – Racing on home snow is not something the U.S. Ski Team is all that familiar with – both the men’s and women’s teams get just one shot at it each season, except for this one.
With the Val D’Isere, France, races canceled and moved to Beaver Creek this week, history was made Wednesday as the World Cup women skied Birds of Prey for the first time.
The American women couldn’t have been happier to be back in Colorado just two weeks after their Aspen World Cup races – races the women thought at the time would be their only stop in the United States this season.
The women charged as best as they could in Wednesday’s super-G race, with American Lindsey Vonn picking up her fourth World Cup win in a row – becoming the first American alpine skier to ever win four straight – and Americans Julia Mancuso and Leanne Smith finishing eighth and 11th, respectively.
American Stacey Cook took the 30th spot, and teammates Chelsea Marshall, Kiley Staples and New Castle’s Alice McKennis came in 41st, 42nd and 43rd, respectively. Americans Brooke Wales and Julia Ford skied off course and did not finish the race.
Cook was the first woman to start Wednesday and she carried a lot of pressure on her shoulders as she left the start gate. She was a bit disappointed in her run, but given the circumstances she felt she did well.
“I should have been able to execute a little better,” Cook said. “It was a tough situation, but super fun and I’m really glad I got the opportunity.”
Cook’s report back up to her teammates provided valuable information about this unknown course.
“Some of the things I noticed [are that] it came at me a little faster than I was expecting,” Cook said. “It’s important to make sure you have the right direction over the rolls.”
Cook’s report is something her teammates also experienced later on. Vonn was the next American to ski, with the 17th start position, followed by Mancuso in the 21st start position.
Vonn fought with nerves that she said were higher than usual at the start gate. She was extra nervous because she wanted her first World Cup win in the United States to happen here in her hometown area, and because the course was new to her.
She said when she got to the start she was “freaking out.” She tried to calm her nerves and even asked her coach to help her, but nothing worked.
Vonn’s run wasn’t perfect. She had some mistakes and nearly missed a couple of gates, but Vonn’s strength and power was enough to carry her through for the win. And to be an American to get that win in Beaver Creek is indescribable, Vonn said.
“It’s just been an amazing, amazing day and this is one that I will remember for my entire life,” she said. “Of the 46 wins that I have so far, this has probably been the most special.”
Mancuso, who came in eighth Wednesday, felt confident in the start gate. She knew the hill would be tough, but she felt like it could have been a really good day.
“Every race, you have to kind of ski perfect if you want to win, and you have to take risks – so sometimes it doesn’t go your way,” Mancuso said.
Mancuso said the key to the Birds of Prey super-G was to be smooth because the snow was aggressive.
“If you miss your edge, you’re bouncing a lot,” Mancuso said. “You have to have good precision – digging in your edge exactly where you want to be.”
That precision is probably what helped Vonn get the win, too. Mancuso said Vonn’s skiing right now is “really, really on it.”
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