The 2015 Birds of Prey World Cup ski races wrapped up this weekend at Beaver Creek Ski Resort in Colorado.  The event is a regular stop on the annual Fédération Internationale de Ski (FIS) World Cup Ski Racing Circuit.  Over the weekend, racers competed in three different disciplines—downhill, super-G and giant slalom—as they tried to establish who could ski down the different courses the fastest.

The events started off on Friday with the running of the downhill on the classic Golden Eagle course.  Downhill is the fastest, highest-risk and most exciting discipline of ski racing.  In downhill, as in the other disciplines, the racers take turns making one run down a pre-set course of gates.  Each racer must make the correct turn around every gate and cross the finish line in order to officially finish the race.

This year’s race was contested on a clear-skied day with 57 competitors from 15 different nations.  The race started off with a bang, as Italian Christof Innerhofer rode bib number one down to an early lead.  After a few racers came close to Innerhofer’s time, the Norwegian Aksel Lund Svindal, wearing bib 16, finally bested Innerhoffer by 0.97 seconds with a time of 1:42.34.

The next racer out of the starting gate—Svindals’s compatriot, Kjetil Jansrud—came down just one-third of a second behind his close friend.  The flying Vikings, as they are collectively called, would remain at the top of the podium, eventually joined by Guillermo Fayed of France in the third position.  All three men attacked the rigorous course with no hesitation, as their impressive finishing times show.  For Svindal, what was more striking was the fact that the win was his third victory in three races.  Without a doubt, these stellar results assert him as a favorite for the rest of the season.

Saturday marked the running of the super giant slalom race, also known as super-g.  This discipline has slightly tighter turns and less gliding sections than downhill, but still has the thrill and risk of a speed event.  On this snowy morning, it was the Austrian and four-time-defending overall champion Marcel Hirscher who took the top spot on the podium, with a time of 1:06.90.

Hirscher was followed up by his rival, American Ted Ligety, who came from bib number 29 to finish just .3 seconds behind Hirscher. Just 0.03 seconds behind Ligety was fellow American Andrew Weibrecht.  This race marked Hirscher’s first World Cup super-G win and Weibrecht’s first World Cup podium spot.

The weekend concluded with the giant slalom.  After an impressive showing in the super-G, Hirscher and Ligety were expected to duke it out once again on the hill for another victory.  Unlike the previous two events of the weekend, in the giant slalom, racers get two runs on the even tighter turns of the giant slalom course. The winner is the racer who posts the best combined time.  In the first run, Hirscher, who raced second, set the top time and once again displayed his formidable skill.  Running fourth, Ligety looked to be on form but suddenly crashed hard into one of the gates, disqualifying him from a second run.

With Ligety out of the race, Hirscher posted the third-best time on the second run and the best combined time of 2:32.58.  France’s Victor Muffat-Jeandet and Norway’s Henrik Kristoff rounded off the podium.  The result certainly was a thrilling way to conclude the weekend and posits Hirscher as a serious contender for what is shaping up to be another exciting World Cup season.

Girten is a member of the class of 2017.

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