World Cup Skiing, World-Class Drama
It was huge news Saturday when 39th-seeded skier Steven Nyman won the World Cup downhill event at Val Gardena, Italy. Taking advantage of freak weather—heavy snowfall and rolling fog that cleared just in time for his run, the injury-prone American won his second career victory, and his first since this same race six years earlier.
The top-seeded skiers go first in World Cup racing, affording them the competitive advantage of fresher snow on the course and fewer sharp edges to catch on as they rocket down the mountain at speeds upwards of 75 mph. But on Saturday, the start of the race was delayed for two hours by heavy snow and low visibility. Eventually the snow slowed and a truncated version of the event began (30 seconds were chopped from the top of the course), but that was delayed when fog rolled in, making the course too dangerous for competition. The odd conditions understandably kept times off of their usual blistering pace. By the time Nyman was up, however, the snow had stopped entirely and the fog cleared and conditions were, by comparison to the early runs, near-perfect.
"Weather is definitely a huge factor," Nyman told reporters after the race. "On days like today you just got to hope for good conditions and take advantage of it." And take advantage he did, putting down a time of 1 minute, 28.82 seconds, 0.19 seconds ahead of first-time podium finisher Rok Perko of Slovenia (another late starter).
The last time Nyman tasted World Cup victory, he seemed on his way to glory, having posted three podium finishes in a 12-month span. But a slew of injuries—a bulging disk in his back, a severely bruised shin, operations on both knees and a torn Achilles tendon—have kept him down since then. Perhaps this win marks a change in his fortunes.
But, in a week that's been relatively dramatic for American skiers, Nyman's win is neither the biggest nor the weirdest news. On Wednesday, injured skier Bode Miller made headlines when he accidentally hit his wife, beach volleyball player Morgan Beck, in the eye with a 160 mph golf tee shot. It's not clear how it happened, or where she was standing in relation to Miller when he teed off, but reports seemed pretty clear that it was a solid, square shot. Lucky for her (and, we suspect, for him), her vision wasn't permanently damaged. It was a nasty zinger, though, that required more than 50 stitches. From Morgan's Twitter account:
I'm not feeling so hot. Line drive to the face today with a golf ball from my darling husband.I still love instagr.am/p/TKWS0bJFhX/
— Morgan Miller (@MorganEBeck) December 13, 2012
In other news, Olympic and World Cup skier Lindsey Vonn revealed to People that she's been battling depression for years.
"Everything about my life seemed so perfect to people. But I struggle like everyone else," Vonn told the magazine. She said she hit an all-time low in 2008 when "I couldn't get out of bed anymore. I felt hopeless, empty, like a zombie."
The superstar takes an anti-depressant to manage her symptoms, but also told the magazine that she's currently happier than she's been in a long time.
Today, Nyman tweeted this:
What if I won the last World Cup Downhill before the end of the world? #thingstoponderatnight
— Steven Nyman (@BelieveinSteven) December 17, 2012
Come to think of it, he has a point. With all of the recent tabloid-style drama, it's starting to feel a little like end times, no?