BY MARCO SULLIVAN
Taking a few days to reboot before we get on the plane to Europe. The world cup season has begun! The past two weeks have been a whirlwind of racing, snowstorms, excitements and disappointments.
Our North American leg of the tour, including races in Lake Louise and Beaver Creek, is now in the books. Because of snowstorms and cold temperatures the racing conditions have been tough. Racers who have done well have had to test their resolve against flat light conditions and bumpy courses. Many of the top names in our sport have not lost a step, and a few young racers have shown that there are here to play this season. The U.S. Ski Team has had an admittedly slow start scoring points, but none of us near the podium.
Our team as a whole is scratching our heads a little bit because, as usual, we entered the first races with high expectations. In the first two downhill races we have had five of our team members in the points as compared with only three men scoring points in the same span last season. The disappointment is that those results have almost all fallen the latter half of the top 30.
We are not far off the mark but the Americans are known for having wild runs that can be surprisingly fast, unfortunately as of yet those wild runs have included a few too many mistakes and not enough speed at the finish.
Thankfully our next stop on the tour is Val Gardena, Italy. Val Gardena has always been a good race for the Americans. My teammate Steven Nyman has won the downhill twice and our team famously landed five racers in the top 10 there in 2009.
Our team is healthy and hungry and we will be looking for strong results in Val Gardena.
Another topic on my mind, and in the buzz of the media, is Olympic qualification. The U.S. can bring four racers to compete in the downhill in Russia, as of now none are objectively qualified to make the trip. Our first line of criteria is a world cup podium. The second line is a top-10. Both of these benchmarks have yet to be satisfied so it is still wide open. As I mentioned we have five men who have scored world cup points, and in my mind all five of us are capable to pop one onto the podium so it should make for some excitement in the coming races.
That will be the plan as we leave home on Thursday and do not return to North America until after the Olympics. It will be a fun winter ahead. I will check in again after the next races and hopefully have some answers and some stories about how it all clicked.
You can also follow my journey on Twitter: @MarcOsullivan