Saturday, October 24, 2009

Race Day!

Finally Race Day!

Soelden, Austria - Women's giant slalom, Rettenbach Glacier
Julia Mancuso is sick of training. It's been seven months since World Cup Finals, three on-snow camps, multiple conditioning blocks, and countless hours in the gym without one singular opportunity to hold a measuring stick against the rest of the ski racing world.

Not easy for those with competitive personalities.

Welcome to Soelden. At 45 turning gates, the traditional giant slalom opener busts the timing wand onto a short steep pitch before mellowing out on a B line for the Rettenbachjoch midstation. At last night's Team meeting, Head Coach Jim Tracy said, "It's full-on hammer down from the start, send it down the hill or you don't get a second run."

At midstation, the course breaks on a hard left boot turn over a brink and down the glacier throat towards the finish stadium. It's loud down there, cold and petty dark through about 30 in the first run or until Ma Nature's fireball slivers over the peaks to heat things up.

Course crews are shoveling snow out of the finish corral right now, slipping the fresh wet off the slope and getting ready for athlete inspection. The slope is World Cup stone hard and looking perfect - hard to believe that around 10 days ago, the glacier was black, meaning it was a parking lot. Seriously, the last few gates and the finish arena are over a parking lot.

Double World Champ Lindsey Vonn lights it up for the U.S. Ski Team with bib 11, Mancuso is rocking No. 18, youngstar Megan McJames has 31, Resi "Le Tigre" Stiegler 37, racer mom Sarah Schleper 39 and Vermont's Jessica Kelley in 45.

Lindsey is looking for her first World Cup podium in GS, she has W's in every other discipline and titles in downhill and super G. Julia was second here to open the '08 season. Sarah has been crushing it in training the last two weeks. Resi want's to prove she's back - it's her first World Cup race since Dec. 28, 2007. McJ set her personal best here last year with 14th and Jess wants to hit the hill that slapped her with a ruptured disc last season.

Fog is burning off, ORF Hitradio has cranked the system and the line of cars is melting into the clouds down valley. I love race day, especially the first.

Click your cyber boots in at First run starts at 3:45 a.m. ET with No. 2 on at 7:45. Game on.



Nerd out!
The USOC has been doing vodcasts to intro top candidates for the Oh 10 Team, check out Lindsey's and here's Jules.

Oh, and I took some cool interview vids of Lindsey, Jules and Ted from Audi's opening press conference on Thursday, cue those suckers up on

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