Maiden victory for Travis Ganong
SANTA CATERINA VALFURVA, Italy – After Saturday’s cancellation of the 2nd training run on the Deborah Compagnoni slope in Santa Caterina, for Sunday’s race the weather finally somewhat stabilized and allowed for a smooth yet shortened last race of 2014.
Strong winds in the very top section of the slope brought some worries to the organizers since early morning and one hour before the first racer was due to leave the starting gate the Jury made the call to lower the starting point from the original starting position at 2690 m.a.s.l to the reserve start house at what is known as the “ladies’ start” at 2530 m.a.s.l.
After finishing only 26th in the only training run Travis Ganong stepped up his game on race day and after crossing the finish line with bib 16 became the one to beat. The young American, who has been very consistent in downhill since last January crossed the finish line in 1:32:42, a mere 0.09 seconds ahead of Matthias Mayer who earned his 2nd podium of the season. Not far behind in third, Dominik Paris finished a very successful 2014 with his fourth podium of the season.
“That was a perfect run I think, it was awesome,” Ganong said after realizing no one would beat his time. “I love a new challenge and this slope is nice, I love the slope. It’s a really cool valley and the mountains are huge here and fun to ski.”
Ganong skied an extremely fast lower section and took some risks with his line.
“I went really, really straight in a couple areas and was able to carry down the speed. The last big carousel turn I did it perfectly, I don’t’ think I could do it like that again even if I tried,” he said.
Mayer entered the season recovering from a knee injury but seems to have recovered in record time.
“I feel good and my knee feels good. I had a bit of time these past few weeks for training and both my shape and skiing are improving,” he said when asked about his health.
Mayer also didn’t seem to mind the lowered start, it made for a smoother race according to him.
“Today was difficult, you never know how much conditions could have changed in half an hour so I think it was a good decision to lower the start as we could race without any problems. The snow here is amazing – aggressive, fast and bumpy so it’s everything we need and I like it a lot,” he said.
Paris has earned himself a podium at each speed venue but Beaver Creek and was able to continue this trend in front of the home crowd in Santa Caterina despite not being a huge fan of the course.
“Even after today I still don’t really like this course so it was even more difficult to put down a podium run but I gave it my best shot and didn’t make many mistakes so I am happy. I knew that even if we started at the top you would be making a difference in the lower section. On the shortened course everyone had to push all the way and this possibly brings more mistakes,” Paris said.
With Sunday’s downhill the races of 2014 come to an end and the season will continue with the ladies’ and men’s slaloms in Zagreb/Sljeme on January 4th and 6th.