My Fantasy Ski Racer Picks: (12/10.15)
Val d’Isere Men’s GS
Val d’Isere Men’s SL
Val D’Isere GS:
This is a unique hill for GS. Because of the steepness of the hill and rules about setting, the average distance between gates is 22 with some turns on the top being 15-17 meters. That results in a stacked up nightmare of stivots, chatters, low lines and frustrated racers. Racers like Ligety who want to carve everything will have to adapt their style and slide top of turn. Running GS on this hill hurts the body and challenges the mind. No one will look all that good on the course, and for sure, none will feel good mentally or physically after each run. However, it’s on the schedule and a win is still worth 100 points.
GS: Who’s In & WHY:
Hirscher. Marcel makes it three in a row on a hill where his technique and athleticism matches perfectly. You need to attack and ski dirty and improvise - which he is the best at.
Fanara. Much like Hirscher, Thomas gets power from each turn, but as we saw in BC, he sometimes explodes. Was second to Hirscher last time they raced this hill.
Ligety. Ted will hate every turn here, but will get out of town with 60 points and be glad. He can’t afford a second bad race to Hirscher to have a chance at the GS Globe. He needs to change the tactics from carving to surviving on this hill.
Luitz. Stefan has twice now made mental errors when winning or skiing to a podium and/or medal - once in Sochi and again last week in BC. This is HIS hill and will bounce back from last week’s choke.
French. I also like Muffat-Jeandet and Faivre this week. Victor coming off best ever finish with confidence, and Faivre still in the HUNT mode and skiing strong.
Leitinger. This guy is two for two in second run fastest times (Soelden and BC). A rookie on all of these courses, he will again be top ten, but in 9th.
GS: Who’s Out and WHY:
Pinturault. Alexis has made the decision to skip the GS because of the concussion he suffered in Beaver Creek.
Neureuther. Have a feeling the steepness and tough snow conditions will not match up well with his back problems.
Myhrer. Best ever result in Beaver Creek, but this course is nothing like that one. He will rock it in the SL though.
SL: Who’s In & WHY:
Hargin. Coming off his first win last year in Kitz and some great results this year in FIS races, he will attack this hill in his wild style and take down Hirscher.
Myhrer. Also skiing and racing well this prep period, he will use confidence from Beaver Creek to chase his Teammate and also beat Hirscher.
Hirscher. The fatigue and pressure will catch up to him in the SL. He is too good at surviving to not be on the podium, but I think a few bad turns will catch up with him and knock him down to 3rd.
Neureuther. His stable and controlled style will work well on this steep hill. Consistency counts and Felix will be able to hang tough for both runs.
Gross & Thaler. Two opposite styles for these Italians, but both will survive for the top ten. Gross has confidence from last year’s SL win and has the moves to recover all the way to the finish. Thaler is big, strong and will power down the steeps with no mistakes.
Chodounsky. Daver is coming off a best-ever GS result in BC and returns to the hill where he has career best result. He is stronger physically this year and his stable, consistent style will prove again, that he belongs in the top ten.
SL: Who’s Out & WHY:
Pinturault. Says he is running the SL, but will still be hurting and doubting ability after the crash in BC.
Khoroshilov. He brings so much energy to his runs, that I fear a big mistake will take him off course.
Austrians. Other than Hirscher, they are struggling in Men’s SL.
Razzoli. Too steep for the Rocket.