The clouds above Kitzbuehel have gone schizo. By 5 p.m. Thursday it was raining. At my 1:30 a.m. pre-schlafen window check, it was pouring. First light was hit in the face by pancake sized flakes saturated with so much moisture it could fill a glass half empty. Hahenkamm super G? No chance. It was canceled before most stumbled out of the Londoner.
The press room is in a panic, column inches need to be filled. The racers went back to bed. A French guy next to me cracked his first Goesser. "Prost," I said.
Over 500 Austrians are huddled in volunteer tents all over the mountain. More shovels are going up the Hahnenkamm Bahn than skis. The 72nd Hahnenkamm downhill his scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Saturday morning. The country's credit rating could drop to B (which is uber bad) and Austrians would be like "eh." Cancel the downhill and there'd be tears in all sorts of beers. Only most would be drank instead of dumped over someone's head.
It's like that - a matter of national pride. Here's the notes:
Kitzbuehel, Austria – The 72nd Hahnenkamm downhill
- Few places strike as much fear and adrenaline into the hearts of racers and fans as Kitzbuehel. Winning takes razor nerve and the guts of a champion. Bode has been second here twice. In 2008, he rode the fence below the Steilhang to second (http://goo.gl/ZA8aV). A year ago, Didier Cuche grabbed bully over the Mausefalle less than 48 hours after watching Austrian Hans Grugger take a chopper ride. Guts – Cuche won. Bode was second.
- What is Kitzbuehel to Bode? Sure, it's big. He wants to win…but not in the same way Daron Rahlves wanted it. For D, Kitz was everything. For Bode, it's a place that demands an inspired performance, even if the performance doesn't translate to victory. Listen to this: http://goo.gl/BLvqM.
- The Lauberhorn, Stelvio, Birds of Prey – Bode has made each his playground and won. Kitzbuehel is a fickle rooster. "The thing that stands out about Kitzbuehel is you can't go that slow. Off the Mausefalle it's pretty fast regardless how you ski. On race day when you're pushing the limits as hard as you can and looking for every 100th of a second you can find on the course there's a little more fear. When you are pushing that hard it definitely gets a little sketchy," he said.
- There's plenty of POV available from the Streif, but leave it to Red Bull to go YouTube 3D - http://goo.gl/drFX8. Now change your underwear.
- Cuche announced yesterday that he was hanging up the Heads after this season. He's won Kitz four times, including the last two. Bode doesn't set timelines:
"When I think back I have a lot of runs that were just miracles... you get down and can't believe you took the risk for one, or that it worked out, for two. One thing I've been consistent with is pushing really hard, I race on the limits... It leaves you with a lot of great memories, when that's your main tactic. It's always the same for me. If I'm enjoying it and healthy then I'll continue. I don't have a time or a date in mind. As long as I'm happy, successful and having a good time then I'll keep going."
Saturday is downhill day. Mother Nature, please let them play.