Thursday, February 18, 2010

Womens Super Combined: Paerson Surges Back Through The Ruts on Another Soft Pissler Course

Again, I was able to watch todays Womens SC live on Eurosport 1 France.

Phenomenal skiing. For those of us who know exactly what we're looking at and tend to nit-pick mistakes, the girls have been putting on quite a show. There aren't many nits to pick. It makes me want to put on my pads and go bash a few gates.

The SC DH was a lot more fair than yesterday's DH, because it was held two hours earlier, so the course was still snow (rather than slush) when the Top Seed came down. Again, Mancuso put down an almost perfect run. I don't know where that's coming from, because she hasn't been able to get arrested for the last two seasons. Either she's been smoking some great stuff in Whistler, or she stopped smoking whatever she's been smoking since Torino, because she's now, out of nowhere, the most precise skier on the hill.

Unlike the DH, the SC DH course was still in good enough shape for Maria Riesch to keep herself in contention as the Top Seed wound down. Most of it was still in shade when Riesch ran. I don't think Riesch skied any better or any worse than she did in yesterday's DH, but the difference was the course wasn't 2 seconds slower due to slush. Anja Paerson also had a remarkably good DH run, considering she got her bell rung so badly in that spectacular crash yesterday.

The slalom leg was another story. It started past noon, the course was sunny and clearly getting mushy. The FIS live ticker showed +3.6C, and I believe every bit of that. The ruts were getting really bad toward the end. Paerson was ragged on her turns in the middle section and put herself into a vulnerable position. Mancuso, who literally has not finished a slalom all season, had a superb top part, but was even more ragged than Paerson in that middle section. Mancuso got way late approaching I2, and I thought she was done. Somehow, she stayed on course and her time was still fast. Reminds me of that old song "when you're hot, you're hot". Riesch was as close to perfect as you can get in semi-shitty, soft Pissler conditions. Her upper body was quiet, her timing was flawless, and she totally charged. A study in strength, skill, quickness, and controlled aggression. I'm sure her biggest fan, my friend JimmyBobBillyRay from Detroit, was stoked. Then it was all up to Vonn. Vonn lost time on the upper half, and then she hit a nasty rut and straddled a gate, and it was abruptly over. I think she knew she was losing time and, rather than backing off from 10/10ths to 9.5/10ths and settling for maybe bronze, she pushed even harder to try to make up time, and she went out. That's the way she is: go big or go home. She's already got a gold medal from skiing's premier event in her back pocket, she's going to win the World Cup crystal globe (again) for sure, so she can afford to just go for it. A more calculating skier like Benni Raich or Paerson would have temporized and settled for 3rd or 4th.

I've watched exactly 5 minutes of the Olympics on NBC. The internet is full of thousands of bitter rantings about how bad the NBC coverage is, and about their tape delays, so I won't expound on that. If it weren't for these proxy servers I've found and being lucky enough to watch these races live, I would have missed a lot of great racing.

Tonight I'm off to Deer Valley to do some actual skiing myself, so I'll miss the Mens SG tomorrow. I'm still looking for the Canadian Mens team to come out big in one of these races, so maybe tomorrow will be the day. Canada is much stronger in speed events, so they'd better make a move soon.

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