U.S. Ski Team happy to be home
BEAVER CREEK, Colorado – The home-team advantage is something that’s present in just about every sport, and U.S. Ski Team members are happy to have it this week at the Birds of Prey World Cup races in Beaver Creek.
Birds of Prey is the only United States stop on the men’s World Cup circuit, meaning the U.S. Ski Team has just one chance to race on its home snow.
U.S. skier Andrew Weibrecht said Beaver Creek is a special stop for the U.S. Ski Team. He feels the advantage already after his training run Wednesday, and the U.S. Ski Team could use the boost of confidence after having just two downhill training runs so far this season because of poor weather conditions in both New Zealand and Chile, the team’s offseason training locations.
“I’m excited to be back here [at Beaver Creek],” Weibrecht said. “You kind of always know how the snow is going to be here – they do a great job preparing the hill; in Lake Louse, not so much.”
For big guys like Steven Nyman, who’s 6-foot-3, just having bigger beds and hotel rooms is enough to make racing at home an advantage. He’s definitely getting better sleep in Beaver Creek, he said.
“In Europe, I buy my own comforter ’cause the blankets usually go up to my belly button,” Nyman said.
It also helps that Nyman has skied Birds of Prey more times than any other hill on the World Cup circuit besides Lake Louise, he said.
“But it’s more just the home crowd. Having the crowd here, my family and my friends come out – you want to perform well in front of the crowd,” Nyman said.
Travis Ganong said it’s hard to pinpoint just one reason that makes racing in the United States an advantage.
“Everyone speaks English, the food is familiar, the beds are nice and big and the rooms are comfortable,” Ganong said. “Just every part of it – it’s really nice racing here. I wish we could race here more often.”
The team will be off to Europe until mid-March to finish out the World Cup season after Birds of Prey wraps up Sunday – a little too far for entire fan clubs like the Park City Ski Team to travel to in order to cheer on Ted Ligety, one of their favorite alums.
The club will be in Beaver Creek this weekend, though, with a contingent of about 80 young ski racers cheering at the finish line.
“I know quite a few of those kids and I know a bunch of the coaches, so it’s cool having them out and supporting us,” Ligety said.
Ligety said racing at Beaver Creek is always a big advantage for the team.
U.S. Ski Team spokesman Doug Haney said, logistically, Beaver Creek is the most organized event the team attends all season, which makes it that much more comfortable to be here, he said.
“The organizing committee at Beaver Creek – these guys are just so passionate about what they do, it’s pretty obvious that’s why we’re going to be here in 2015 [for the World Alpine Ski Championships],” Haney said.
Weibrecht said the snow conditions here are what U.S. skiers are used to skiing on. The races at Birds of Prey get the team prepared for some of the harder snow over in Europe, he said.
“It’s definitely a lot easier, I think, to go from this and ski on this sort of snow – then it’s easier to take that jump to the really gnarly, hard snow we have in Europe a lot,” Weibrecht said. “It’s just kind of nice. This is just what we’re used to; a lot of the Europeans aren’t, but we are.”
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