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 . world ski news
06 December 2009 - 22:30
Janka Takes Beaver Creek Hat Trick
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Today's (Dec. 6) World Cup Giant Slalom in Beaver Creek, Colorado saw Swiss young gun Carlo Janka win again, his third Word Cup victory in as many races (he also won the Super Combined and Downhill here). The last time a skier grabbed three straight World Cup wins it was Aksel Lund Svindal in the 2007 World Cup finals at Lenzerheide. The win gave the 23-year old Janka five victories for his career, puts a target on his back for the rest of this season and has many wondering if taking a huge amount of time off over the summer might not have some major benefits. Janka's combined time after two runs was 2:29.44.

"I can't believe I won three here," said Janka. "The most important thing is for me to be able to carry this success to the European circuit."

Austria's Benjamin Raich joined Janka on the podium in second with a combined time of 2:29.91. Norwegian Svindal took third, his second podium of the weekend, with a combined time of 2:30.37.

"He is really, strong he's in perfect shape and has a lot of self-confidence, you can see today he is hard to beat," said Benjamin Raich of Janka's perfect Beaver Creek run. "The first run was a make or break, if I didn't make the mistakes in the first run, those are the things that made me miss it today."

"It was good day for me," continued Raich. "I like this hill, I'm happy to be on the podium."

Svindal was happy with his result as he is returning from an injury (leg bruise) suffered in October. "Beaver Creek, for me, went as well as I could possibly hope for," said Svindal. "If I continue to step it up it's going to be a good season. I think the most important thing is to feel ready for the challenges that are ahead in the season."

"He is a couple of heads ahead of me at least, " said Svindal of Janka. "It's good that he is making a name for himself, you need guys like that in the sport. When you look at him ski he doesn't look extreme. He is very efficient, he does exactly what he needs to do to be fast."

What was ideal weather for the first two races here turned sour today as steady snowfall made visibility tough for all but the first five racers of the first run. Visibility and a rutted course caused 15 racers to not finish the first run on the Birds of Prey course.

Janka, however, wasn't fazed by the challenging conditions. "When things come together it doesn't matter when that it is snowy and cold."

The race started in a light snowfall that got progressively heavier as the run played out making visibility much more difficult for later racers. Just one skier starting past 20 made the top 10, that being Gauther DeTessieres of France who made it to tenth in the first run.

Janka made his mark early, putting down the fastest first-run time with a time of 1:15.18. The 23-year old Swiss was holding a quarter of a second lead over Raich and three-quarters of a second over teammate Didier Defago, who finished seventh today.

Americans Ted Ligety and Jake Zamansky (25th) were the only home racers to make the turn and compete in the second run, as Bode Miller didn't finish the first run. Ligety held his fourth place position from the first run as the conditions improved and the heavy snowfall from the first run broke and bits of blue sky could be seen over the valley. "Fourth place isn't so bad I guess," admitted Ligety. "Both courses were really fast, which isn't my specialty for sure."

Ligety was also impressed with Janka's sweep. "Janka's skiing has been pretty incredible. It's crazy to see how he did here," he said. "He's a strong kid and doesn't make mistakes."

A race highlight was a spectacular crash from Frenchman Thomas Fanara, who took out a panel, loaded up his ski and launched an estimated 12 feet into the air completely upside down, landing on his helmet and shoulder and sliding into the fencing. He disengaged himself from the netting and appeared relatively unscathed.

The men's alpine World Cup now shifts to Val d'Isere, France for a super combined, super G and giant slalom Dec. 11-13.

Eric Williams and Hank McKee
Ski Racing Magazine
Sunday 6 December 2009

Carlo Janka on his way up

Carlo Janka delivered quite an extraordinary performance at Beaver Creek on Saturday, beating four of the most established speed specialists on the tour with his tremendous run at Beaver Creek. Beating skiers such as Didier Cuche, Aksel Lund Svindal and Michael Walchhofer is a true feat after all. Yet, is it really a surprise?

In fact, it seems to have only been a matter of time for Janka to win his first World Cup downhill. The 23-year-old giant slalom World Champion reached three podiums so far in the past year in that event, including at Val d'Isère 2009, where he clinched bronze a few days prior his triumph in giant slalom.

A week before enjoying his latest triumphs in super combined and downhill on Beaver Creek's treacherous ‘Birds of Prey' course, Janka earned another promising 3rd place at Lake Louise, confirming his strength on that slope on which he stunned his friends a year ago, claiming 2nd place despite his high start number 65!

The 21st Swiss racer to win a World Cup downhill since 1967, Janka could now dream of becoming the fourth skier in the Swiss men's team to clinch the overall World Cup standings after Peter Luescher, Pirmin Zurbriggen and Paul Accola. Yet that's not his first priority for the moment.

"It is part of my plans for the coming years, but not for now, I still need to improve my routine and be more consistent throughout the entire season," he said earlier this season. "The winter is just starting now, so let's wait a little. There are so many more races left," he recently commented at Beaver Creek.

The skier from Obersaxen, a village of 800 inhabitants situated in the South East of Switzerland, entered the World Cup tour in December 2005 at Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, at age of 19. Two years later, he scored his first top-10 finish at Val d'Isère, as he came in 8th in the super combined in February 2008.

Val d'Isère brought him even more luck later on as he won his first World Cup race there in December 2008, dominating the technically demanding giant slalom on the steep ‘La Face' course. In January, he captured a super combined event at Wengen en route to his first crystal globe in that event. A month later, he amazed once more the skiing community and his fans in winning - on Friday the 13th - the giant slalom at Val d'Isère 2009 after getting bronze in the rough downhill.

Carlo's strong season-start - two wins, two podiums and a 6th place in five competitions since Soelden - has surprised his team and even himself. He has not been able to train for several weeks last summer after being infected by an unknown virus apparently caught during his spring holidays in Thailand.

"I couldn't train for a long time so I was not sure at the start of this season to find back my rhythm so soon," he said at Beaver Creek. "Yet I'm still not in my very best shape for the moment, I see that I need more time than normal to recover after doing strong efforts."

His very ‘down-to-earth' and cool attitude soon earned him the explicit nickname of ‘Iceman' in his team and in the Swiss press. Even though Carlo is talking much more now that two years ago - even in English - he still likes to use few words to express his feelings and his thoughts after his races, showing no special emotion on race day even after impressive achievements. This attitude reminds other great giant slalom specialists as Sweden's legend Ingemar Stenmark or two-time world champion Michael von Grünigen of Switzerland.

"Yes, that's not bad, I'm pleased, it's no big deal," he mostly says when asked to comment his good results. "I'm not especially nervous before a competition, I take it as it comes," he sometimes adds. The young champion is appreciated by his colleagues for his dry humor. They also appreciate his mental strength and his very controlled style on snow that allows him to perfectly master the most treacherous of courses.

"It will help him to save energy and be ready to fight hard when it really matters," commented former champion Pirmin Zurbriggen, one of Switzerland's top stars in the 1980s. "He seems to have no nerves at all."

In fact, the new Swiss leader remained so relaxed prior his first ever FIS race many years ago that he even missed the start! He was having such a great time watching the competition from the finish line that he forgot to go early enough at the start. His trainer didn't like it so much and he was sent back at home to reflect about it.

Fortunately, Carlo came back and slowly moved up in the rankings, proving his potential in 2006 when he grabbed bronze in giant slalom at the FIS Junior World Ski Championships in Quebec. He also reached five podiums on the Europa Cup tour yet no single win. This didn't prevent him to explode onto the World Cup scene two years ago.

Janka frankly admits he is much more nervous before a football match of the English Premier League, especially when it involves his beloved team of Manchester United! Last spring he travelled to England to attend the classic Derby against Manchester City and said he was quite tense in the hours before it began.

"This was a big deal," he explained, "I played football a lot when I was younger, in defence. People told me I had talent but I preferred to focus on ski racing after a while but I still take time to play a little when I can," he said.

Ski racing is the main sport practiced in his region. His older brother Pirmin was also racing for a while although without great success while his younger sister Fabienne entered her first World Cup race earlier this season at Soelden. The 20-year-old didn't qualify for the second run but her victory last season in a FIS giant slalom at Zinal shows that she has talent too.

Carlo, called ‘Jänks' by his teammates, also an established expert using his play station, is always ready for exhilarating experiences. Last summer, he fully appreciated the exciting escape he made with a Hunter fighter jet flying over the Alps along other planes from the famous ‘Patrouille Suisse'.

"That was amazing, we were so close that I could clearly see the other pilots next to our jet, it was pretty thrilling," he said after his 40-minute-flight in the sky above his country.

His World Championships gold medal at Val d'Isère allows him to receive special treatment while travelling in the World Cup tour such as the use of a single room in the team hotel. He mostly declines this exclusive service since he enjoys sharing his time and his room with his good friend Sandro Viletta, another great Swiss talent.

As the other member of the Swiss team, Carlo Janka has been very affected by the terrible accident sustained by Daniel Albrecht at Kitzbühel last January. He was extremely relieved when Albrecht awoke from his coma in February during the World Championships and he dedicated him his triumph afterwards. As Didier Cuche, Janka knows that the margin between triumph and disaster is often very slim.

"He is a huge talent, I needed a long time before having the same feeling as him for the best line in downhill," commented the Swiss veteran at Beaver Creek after the downhill. "I'm sure he doesn't need to learn something from me," Cuche added. "He has such an instinct. He has it in the blood. I told him in the finish I would like to go back ten year and have the same God's gift."

Future will show how long Carlo Janka may need to achieve other outstanding performances - winning the big crystal globe or an Olympic medal at Whistler Mountain. But for sure he will create great interest for ski racing in Switzerland and in the rest of the world.

Sunday 6 December 2009

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Flachau celebrates its legend Hermann Maier – 08 December 2009 - 23:37
Carlo Janka is good for skiing – 11 December 2009 - 15:52
Austrians impressive in Val d'Isere super combined – 11 December 2009 - 16:49
Survival of the Fittest – 12 December 2009 - 15:39
Worley takes Are giant slalom – 12 December 2009 - 15:39

Goergl beats Vonn by hundredths in super G – 06 December 2009 - 21:39
Ammann strikes for the first time; Italy and Russia took the victory in cross-country team event – 06 December 2009 - 18:40
Double downhill victory for Vonn; Riesch and Brydon swap spots on podium in Lake Louise – 05 December 2009 - 23:13
Janka continues streak in Beaver Creek, wins downhill – 05 December 2009 - 23:12

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