A busy weekend of FIS-level alpine racing concluded Tuesday afternoon at Copper Mountain with women’s giant slalom — the final event in four days of competition.
“It’s phenomenal for Copper Mountain to host this early in the year,” U.S. alpine team senior press officer Doug Haney said, adding that it’s an “enormous advantage” for U.S. team members to be able to compete at their home training area.
The U.S. Ski Team Speed Center at Copper hosted 12 alpine races over the weekend and through Tuesday. Races included men’s downhill, men’s and women’s super G, super combined and women’s GS. It was a largely U.S. field of competition, but the races included a number of international competitors training at Copper Mountain.
For those outside of the top 30 in the FIS world ranking it was an opportunity to improve their points standings.
“Any FIS race athletes have the opportunity to better their start position in future races,” Haney explained. “If you’re in the top 3O in the World Cup it won’t help your standings.”
For some alpine A team members, like Laurenne Ross and teammates Leanne Smith and Stacy Cook, the weekend of racing was more an opportunity to refine what they’ve been practicing, rather than serious competition.
“We want to get in the race mindset,” Ross said after her final run. “It’s more of a training (race). I’m trying to race with a focus on something I’m training on.”
She said for the men, however, the races were a little more representative of World Cup-level competition.
That’s a good sign for Erik Fisher, who’s returning to full strength after a series of injuries and knee surgery. He had opted to sit out last season and fully recover.
Fisher took first in two of three downhill competitions, finishing in 1:36.92 and 1:37.1.
“It’s a really good sign to see Erik Fisher win a couple of races,” Haney said.
Teammate Travis Ganong followed suit in super G with two top finishes, running the course in 1:20.55 and 1:18.86.
Other noteworthy U.S. finishes included Andrew Weibrecht, Thomas Beisemeyer and Ganong finishing first, third and fourth respectively in the weekend’s first downhill event.
Steven Nyman and Marco Sullivan also added second- and third-place finishes in downhill. Nick Daniels took second in super combined.
Former Olympian Bode Miller’s best finish on the weekend was eighth in downhill with a four other top 20 finishes in downhill and super G.
For the women, Leanne Smith led the charge with first- and second-place finishes in super G. Teammate Stacy Cook also had a strong showing with two third-place finishes in super G and second in super combined. Ross added fourth- and fifth-place finishes to the tally in super G. Julia Ford claimed third in super combined.
Training will continue at Copper through the World Cup races at Beaver Creek, starting Nov. 26.
Some of the team will travel to Levi, Finland, this weekend for a World Cup slalom event.