Travis Ganong is an up-and-coming U.S. Ski Team Alpine racer. Ganong hails from Lake Tahoe, Calif. where he grew up skiing at Squaw Valley. In 2012, he finished 12th, a career best, on the famed Hahnenkamm downhill in Kitzbuehel, Austria. When he’s not racing, Ganong spends his time free skiing and even did some big mountain skiing this past summer in Alaska for Warren Miller’s latest film: Flow State. Ganong will be blogging for OnTheSnow throughout this World Cup season as he prepares for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Beaver Creek, Colorado is stop No. 2 on the World Cup Downhill and Super G tour. This is the only World Cup event in the U.S. and it is always such a great race with perfect conditions every year, along with family and friends cheering us on at the finish.
The Birds of Prey downhill at Beaver Creek is considered one of the toughest downhill courses in the world. It is truly the only modern downhill that can rival the classics like Kitzbuhel and Wengen. The downhill starts up high on this flat mesa of a mountain in the thick pine trees, and being up there you kind of forget about what is waiting for you down below. After a 20 second nice and flat gliding section you make one long sweeping right-footed turn and then dive straight down into “The Brink”. “The Brink” is the steepest groomed slope that I have ever seen—you have to just send it straight down towards the safety netting and then stand on your left ski into this crazy side hill traverse with a little jump at the end. This turn is called “Talon Turn” as it resembles the shape of a bird’s talon.
After “The Brink” and “Talon Turn”, the initial shock of dropping into the steep part is over and, for me, I start to enjoy ripping down the next five turns over really cool terrain, and bank turns with little jumps throughout. This is still the steep part so it remains super intense. After negotiating the last steep turns, its time to go fast and you have to let it go and try and take as much speed as you can off the steep part and through “Pumphouse”, onto the flats. This is where I made a big mistake this year—I hit some bumps and almost lost it into the fence, but I was lucky to hang on.
The rest of the course is so much fun. It resembles a skier cross course or a motocross course with awesome turns into big jumps into compressions and out of holes as it winds its way to the finish area with thousands of screaming American fans!
Every year coming to Beaver Creek is awesome and I am starting to feel really fast on this hill. This year I won the second Downhill training run, was fourth on the next training run and finished a respectable 16th in the race after I made a few mistakes. I can’t wait to come back next year to try again and win it! Stay tuned for the next stop on tour as we head to Europe for the rest of the season. The next race is the famous Saslong Downhill in Val Gardena, Italy.
Check out this video of Ganong's 16th-place finish in Beaver Creek: