St. Anton, Austria: Women
The women's speed circuit is officially back underway with racing at St. Anton, Austria. Lindsey Vonn, absent from the last few technical races (she took a break to regroup), is back racing in her stronger disciplines, downhill and super-G.
Of my World Cup podium results, I am probably most proud of my second-place finish at St. Anton in December 2007. That is because of the technical difficulties of this course. You have to turn and turn a lot while navigating nearly endless terrain changes. The Eisfal around the middle of this course is also one of the few sections, if not the only speed track on the women's circuit that is too steep for groomers to go on.
Friday's training run was cancelled due to 35 centimetres of new snow at the top of the course. This means the girls will enjoy a fun-filled powder day before getting back to racing. Having the day off may mean good rest for some athletes. But for most, it will make racing on this track tougher due to its difficultly and because most athletes haven't skied it before this week.
The last time the women skied a downhill on this track, there was a North American sweep with Vonn atop the podium followed closely by myself and Julia Mancuso, another American, in third. The Austrians were not impressed ... and likely still hold a grudge. I'm excited to see how the podium shakes out this weekend.
We all know there won't be a repeat of 2007's podium since I'm not there. But an American sweep is still possible, though unlikely. Stars like Lara Gut from Switzerland and Austria's Anna Fenninger will be strong contenders likely to find a spot on that podium.
As for St. Anton itself, this is a skier's ski resort -- a picturesque mountain town surrounded by peaks that offer great backcountry skiing should you be so inclined. The resort also extends across the Arlberg region. It showcases 82 gondolas and ski lifts; 260 kilometres of groomed runs and 184 kilometres of deep-snow runs, all of which are covered under one lift pass. Plus, the après-ski options are pretty amazing (I may have celebrated my podium in style at the Krazy Kangaroo).
St. Anton hopes to become a regular stop on the World Cup circuit with a long history of hosting their first Kandahar Race 85 years ago. Regardless, for any avid skier, it is a stop worth making.
Adelboden, Switzerland: Men
Even if you didn't know it was Adelboden, likely you have seen images from this race. It is one of those iconic courses on the World Cup circuit that, every year, produces some of the most memorable images -- not only because of the difficulty and steepness of the final slope, but also due to the crowds.
The Swiss love their ski racing and show up in droves to be sure their boys are properly encouraged with throngs of flags. As athletes crest over onto the final pitch, the wall of fans is hard to miss.
After the last men's slalom race in Zagreb, Crotia, everyone is hoping for better race conditions and more success for the Canadian men. Adelboden, like most resorts, can change drastically from year to the next depending on snow conditions, visibility and temperatures. Since our men's team will all be starting outside of the Top 30, a bullet-proof course will be a critical element to help ensure success.
As for Me
I will be making an announcement Saturday at 10 a.m. ET from my home club, Chicopee Ski Club in Kitchener, Ont. Stay tuned for more information!
Who: Kelly and members of the Kelly VanderBeek Racing (KVR)
What: Announcement and skiing at Chicopee with KVR members
When: Saturday, Jan. 12, at 10 a.m. ET
Where: Chicopee Ski Club
Follow Kelly Vanderbeek on Twitter @KellyVanderBeek
Do you have improvements to suggest for this page?