The Pissler weather turned the womens GS into a Gong Show. I’ve never seen such a fucked-up race at the World Cup level. The fog in “The Sewer” was so thick that the first run never should have taken place. Between the mushy, slushy course falling apart and the 20 completely invisible gates in the middle of the course, that race was about as much of a comic farse as a race can be at this level. Fortunately, Atle had the balls to at least pull the plug on the 2nd run. The pressure on him to try to get the race off must have been crushing, as Pissler is running out of time. The possibility that the Olympics will end without the ski program being completed, the possibility of which I blogged a week ago, is becoming very real.
I watched Vonn’s and Mancuso’s first runs. The rule is you’ve got to be able to see two gates ahead; to me it looked like they couldn’t see two meters ahead at mid-course. Of course, in typical Pissler fashion, it was perfectly clear down at the finish. The typical Pissler fog sits like a big steaming pile of dog shit about 300 vertical feet above the finish.
Normally, at this level, the “start interval” (time between racers) would be set so that each racer would be either totally finished or 2-3 gates from the finish before the next racer started (at least for the “top seed”). But because the Pissler piss was so thick, Atle sped up the start interval (perfectly legal and not controversial at all) to 1:00 for a 1:15 run. At a normal race, when Vonn hit the nets, the next racer (Mancuso) would still have been standing in the start. A “stop-start” could have been called to repair the gate Vonn broke, and to cart Vonn’s carcass off the course. Unfortunately, with the tightened start interval, when Vonn hit the nets Mancuso was already 15 seconds into her run. Having “yellow flag zones” is also normal, and Mancuso was flagged just before she got to the site of Vonn’s crash because the course wasn’t safe there. Mancuso stopped, which she is obligated to do. Mancuso then had to be zapped back up to the start on a snowmobile, and then she was re-run on partially burned skis. The psychological factor and additional stress definitely didn’t help Mancuso, nor did running 13 racers later on a course that was already falling apart in the rain and warm temperatures, nor was the fact that she’d already run most of a run, and was winded. The whole episode was just a cascading series of Pissler-caused fuckups, but there was nothing against the rules nor even that unusual. Simple bad luck. It’s ski racing, it’s an outdoor sport, it happens all the time, although not normally to racers in the top seed. Mancuso whined on TV about all the cards stacked up against her, but she should remember that a humongous dollop of extraordinarily good luck got her the DH silver, so what goes around comes around. That’s ski racing, and ski racing at Pissler introduces far more luck – both good and bad – than normal.
Normally, the first run would be thrown out and the race re-scheduled for another day. That’s really the fair thing to do. But I think everyone involved realizes that they are in real danger of the womens GS being canceled, so the jury allowed the first run to stand, and will attempt to race run 2 tomorrow (Thursday).
Tomorrow (Thursday) is supposed to be exactly like today, so there’s a very real possibility that the 2nd run will be postponed. Again. Based on my past experience with racing in Pissler fog, they’ve only got one shot, and that’s to run it first thing in the morning with no delays. Once they delay the start to see if the fog burns off (it won’t) or suffer a couple of delays due to crashes, they’re dead. Pissler fog only gets worse as the day goes on.
Friday is also supposed to be warm, rainy, and foggy for the womens SL.
The best case scenario is the GS run 2 finishes Thursday, the SL goes off on Friday as scheduled, and Saturday the mens SL finishes things up. However, we’re talking about Pissler here. Worst case: too foggy to run GS run 2 Thursday, same thing for womens SL on Friday, men run SL on Saturday (weather is supposed to clear by Saturday), Sunday is a make-up day for womens SL, and womens GS is abandoned due to Pissler fog.
Pissler just sucks.
Vonn’s crash was a doozy. She almost knocked herself unconscious with her own right knee (which she also did at Lake Louise earlier this season, where she almost bit through her own tongue), then got twisted up like a bavarian pretzel in a very violent tumble. She’s one strong and tough chick to walk away from that under her own power. An impressive athlete indeed. She fractured her finger. That’s actually a big deal, because her next race is slalom, and these days, slalom racing is essentially a boxing match between the racers and the rapid-gates. Racing modern slalom with an injured hand is very, very difficult. If I were her, I’d pack my bags tonight and leave with my two medals. Maybe go host Saturday Night Live this weekend (as she has stated she’d love to do) instead of staying around rainy Pissler to try to race slalom with her hand in a cast.