Sunday, October 25, 2009

Men's GS in Soelden

A few hours following the women's GS, Soelden's main street closes and becomes a sea of painted people, drums, horns, banners and rickety homemade wheel barrows stocked with dripping wooden kegs. It's a scene for sure. The first BIG party for the World Cup fan club circuit, which truly is a tour of its own right.

Pretty sure Tom Kelly was there and dropped a vid on YouTube. Hopefully Audi USA marketing chief Scott Keogh caught it too. He flew over the pond just to see our boys rip today. That's cool.

The fan club parade ends at the women's public awards and men's GS bib draw, but the party cranks on until, well, tomorrow.

Soelden, Austria - men's giant slalom - Rettenbach Glacier
The men's tech Team is a fun group to be around, easy going and constantly poking fun at each other. Ted is the ultimate offender, but the coaches are pretty solid themselves. It's like being in a high school locker room and really the only way this Team could work. European racers will go home for a couple of nights following a race, then move to the next training site. Ted won't be home until Christmas.

At the race eve Team meeting, they go through the normal next day logistics, hand out the appropriate credentials and spend at least five minutes or more talking about how to get lunch between runs. Most of the time this involves speculating on whether they can sneak into the VIP tent (the girls were successful yesterday). But it also involves a motivational video produced by Team PT Adam Perreault and coach Pete Korfiatis, AKA Happy 1-9 Productions. The films features fast runs from the race venue, solid training clips and in last nights case, about 30 seconds of dirt jumping a junker car named "Sweet Caroline" at the New Zealand training camp. It was Warner Nickerson's and he got it for free.

Today is Warner's first World Cup start since Dec. 12, 2006 and he earned his spot by winning a time trial last week. It's a first for Tommy Ford as well - his virgin World Cup start - there's a lot of excitement around this two-time Ski Racing Junior of the Year and to be honest, i'm pretty psyched to see him go today too. He's a mellow kid and probably only travels with two shirts (both plaid flannel), but he's been nipping Ted here and there in GS training.

While i'm on the list of first, let's go with Jake Zamansky. The Z-man is staring bib 30 - his lowest World Cup starting number ever. Tim Jitloff is No. 25, Warner 47 and T-Ford 52 with 74 racers on the board. Those are good numbers.

So is No. 3, drawn by Shred last night in front of about 2,000 screaming teenage girls. In three World Cup starts at Soelden, Teddy Ball Game has finished 8-2-3 in that order. It'd be cool to see a 1 added to that string and if it happens, i might buy the first lottery ticket of my life. Even more amazing is the start order for today's race of Swiss Didier Cuche, Austrian Benni Raich then Ligety. Last season's final giant slalom standings read the exact same way. Actually the first five starters mirror the '09 standings. The draw is random. Random.

Daylight savings hit Europe last night, so i banked a bonus hour and so do you early risers. First run start time is 4:45 a.m. ET with second run at 8:45. Get your stat sheets out and start scribbling blurry eyed while watching Live Timing. Light is looking a little flat right now, but that could easily change.



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