skiing

McKeever strikes gold for Canada

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After the historic lost opportunity for Brian McKeever to race at the 2010 Olympics, becoming the first athlete ever to compete in both Olympic and Paralympic games, this is a very sweet result. A dominant victory to take some of the sting away from the disappointment from Whistler.

Andy Clark, Reuters Brian McKeever, left, claimed gold--Canada's first in the visually impaired 20-kilometre cross country freestyle event.

Paralympic Games: ‘It couldn’t fall to a more worthy person’
Terry Bell, Canwest News Service
Published: Tuesday, March 16, 2010

WHISTLER – The 2008 Olympics in Beijing had Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps. The 2010 Olympics had Lindsay Vonn and a rather remarkable goal by Sidney Crosby.

The 2010 Winter Paralympics have Brian and Robin McKeever.

Brian McKeever, the 30-year-old legally blind Paralympic cross country skier/ biathlete from Canmore, Alta., is a major star at these Games, his star rising even higher after he had qualified for the Canadian Olympic cross-country team only to be denied a chance to compete by the team’s coaching staff.

Yesterday morning at Whistler Olympic Park, he laced up his boots and with the help of his brother Robin, who acts as his guide, won the men’s 20-kilometre freestyle visually impaired event . The gold medal is Canada’s first at these Games. As this is the first time Canada has hosted the Winter Paralympics, it also marks the first winter gold on Canadian soil.

Read more: http://www.nationalpost.com/sports/story.html?id=2686762#ixzz0iP5FPIu4

Erik Guay wins GAP Super G and World Cup title

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Phenomenal achievement for Erik! This is huge news. More later.

Photograph by: Alexis Boichard/Agence Zoom/Getty Images

Guay wins final race and super-G cup
Thu Mar 11, 2010
By Brian Homewood

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (Reuters) – Canada’s Erik Guay won the final super-G of the season to snatch the Alpine ski World Cup title on Thursday.

Guay leapfrogged Michael Walchhofer and Aksel Lund Svindal in the standings after a dramatic finale on a snowy, foggy day to become the first Canadian to win a World Cup title since Steve Podborski was joint downhill champion with Switzerland’s Peter Mueller in 1982.

Read the entire article here.

Erik Guay takes Kvitfjell Super-G

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Free of the super hype surrounding Whistler and the Olympic races there, Guay took his place at the top of the podium today in Kvitfjell, Norway. As he said in interviews, he was .03 off the podium in Whistler and won today by .02. Ridiculously tight results. Other Canadians: Manny Osborne-Paradis finished 11th and Jan Hudec, 17th.

I’d like to see Erik bring his momentum to the World Cup finals in Garmisch-Partenkirchen next week. Sentimental location for me, as that was where I taught skiing for a couple of seasons.

Erik Guay kept his slim hopes of claiming the men’s World Cup super-G title alive by taking victory in the event at Kvitfjell.

The Canadian clocked a time of one minute 31.95 seconds to claim his second ever World Cup race win and first in super-G.

Michael Walchhofer missed out on his chance to take an unassailable lead in the standings as the Austrian could only manage a sixth-placed finish.

Walchhofer’s compatriot Hannes Reichelt trailed Guay home by a mere 0.02 seconds.

Olympic star Aksel Lund Svindal, riding on home snow in Norway, shared third place with Swiss Tobias Gruenenfelder.

The result leaves Svindal 46 points behind Walchhofer in the super-G standings, with Guay a further 23 points adrift in third place.

Read the rest of this entry »

Men’s relay pulls off 4th place in elite field

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No, it’s not a medal, but the breakthrough for Canadian men’s XC skiing is phenomenal. In Norway, this relay is regarded as THE prestige event. The cheers that erupted when Bjørn Dæhlie crossed the finish line 2nd in Lillehammer in 1994, 1st in Nagano in 1998, and likely when Petter Northug left his opposition in his wake in the final sprint today, would be deafening. For Canada to be in the top 4 in this kind of company is unprecedented. Another result to savour. Congrats to Devon Kershaw and Alex Harvey.

Photograph by: Peter J. Thompson, Canwest News Service

Cross-country: Canadian men’s team achieves new benchmarks
BY MIKE BEAMISH, VANCOUVER SUN
FEBRUARY 22, 2010

WHISTLER — From eighth to fifth, and now fourth: In successive races, the Canadian men’s cross-country ski team has set new benchmarks for achievement in the Winter Olympic Games.

Alex Harvey of Ste-Ferreol Des Neiges, Que., and Devon Kershaw of Canmore, Alta., finished fourth in today’s men’s team sprint at Whistler Olympic Park, two days after Ivan Babikov of Canmore was fifth in the 30K pursuit and a week following Babikov’s eighth-place result in the 15K. Before the Vancouver-Whistler Games, Canada’s highest finish in the history of men’s Olympic cross-country competition was Pierre Harvey’s 14th, at the 1988 Calgary Olympics.

Today’s result sets up Canada for a medal possibility in Wednesday’s 4×10-kilometre relay. The four-man Canadian team — Babikov, Harvey, Kershaw and Geroge Grey — are considered stronger distance skiers than sprinters.

Read the entire article here.

Canadian XC sprint relay teams through to finals

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Both the men’s and women’s teams have made it through to the XC relay sprint finals.

Getty Images

Men’s semis results. The men finished 4th.

Women’s semis results. The women finished 7th.

Majdic won bronze in XC sprint despite broken ribs, collapsed lung

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This is the most remarkable story of the Olympics to date. It’s unimaginable how a skier could compete at all in a sprint event like this, let alone win a bronze medal.

Posted by Meri-Jo Borzilleri

Turns out, Petra Majdic was more than just bruised when she won bronze in the individual classical sprint on Wednesday.

The Slovenian cross-country star was found to have broken four ribs and suffered a collapsed lung when she fell off course during a training run just before the race.

Majdic’s injuries will end not only her Olympics but her season. She has been hospitalized since the accident, and is not permitted to fly home for at least a week.

Her national team has filed a protest with Olympic organizers that there should have been more protection where she tumbled off the course, falling about 10 feet and onto some rocks.

Majdic, the world’s top-ranked sprinter, did not know how badly she was hurt until after the race.

Amazingly, she managed to capture a medal in the event that requires major lung exertion and hard poling by both arms and torso. In a sprint, skiers race in a small pack and go all out for a total four 1.4-kilometer loops on a hilly, technical course.

Majdic appeared in severe pain, crumpling each of the four times she crossed the finish. Her agony was so apparent that while on course, coaches from rival nations cheered her on, she said.

Read the entire article here.

History made by Canada’s XC skiers

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Amazing results from the Canadian trio of Babikov, Grey and Harvey.

Three skiers in the top nine. Just fantastic!

Canada's George Grey, right, comes to the aid of an exhausted Ivan Babikov after the pursuit on Saturday. (Javier Soriano/Getty Images)

Canada was the only country with three skiers in the top 10.

Ivan Babikov of Canmore, Alta., led the way, just 9.1 seconds back in fifth place.

National team veteran George Grey of Rossland, B.C., was eighth in 1:15.32, immediately followed by Alex Harvey of St-Ferreol-les-nieges, Que., in ninth place.

Harvey was 11 seconds behind Grey.

Devon Kershaw of Sudbury, Ont. was 16th at 1:16.23.6. A total of 64 from around the world entered the competition.

The Canadians took turns flirting with the lead pack. Grey and Babikov were sitting sixth and seventh respectively at the 22.5k mark, with Harvey overtaking them for a while.

Canadian men have never reached the Olympic podium, but the performance was cause for hope.

To put it into perspective, the top trio of Canadians finished ahead of previous Olympic medallists Petter Northug of Norway, Dario Cologna of Switzerland and Pietro Piller Cotter of Italy.

Disappointment

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Real disappointment from the Canadian Alpine Ski team. No one can be more disappointed that Manuel Osborne-Paradis. His Olympics are now over.

Do they have the skiers to redeem themselves in the remaining non-speed events?

Over the past two years, Osborne-Paradis has done his best to downplay the Games, at one point saying he would rather win the overall World Cup skiing title than an Olympic gold. In the lead-up to Vancouver, countless reporters asked him how he was going to handle the pressure of skiing in front of hometown fans. His answer was always the same: I’ll treat it like every other event. This afternoon, standing in front of reporters yet again—his medal hopes dashed—he was asked whether the pressure finally got to him. After a long pause, he answered this way: “I liked the pressure. I liked the fact that people’s eyes were on me and wanted me to do well, because I think I’ve always done better like that. The expectations push you harder. I liked it. There was a lot of it here, and it was more than we’ve ever had, but I don’t think I succumbed to anything. I think it was just a good opportunity, and it was an opportunity lost.”

Do Canadians have a right to be disappointed, not only in you, but the rest of your teammates? “They have a reason to be disappointed,” he said. “Everybody has a reason to be disappointed. That’s what the expectations were—and that was our expectation, too.”

Brunt: A heartbreaking imbalance of risk and reward

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Insightful article by Stephen Brunt on Manny Osborne-Paradis’ tough run today. Truth be told, it was a wild assault on his home course and in the end he couldn’t hold the speed and the aggressive approach he took all the way through to the end. If ever an athlete showed that you can want something too much, Osborne-Paradis did that today.

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The Globe and Mail
By Stephen Brunt, Monday, February 15, 2010 9:15 PM ET

There are different ways to ski a race, even for the very best in the world.

Everyone wants to be on the top of the podium, but anyone who lays it out every time, who forces the issue no matter what the circumstances, isn’t going to survive long in this dangerous game. All kinds of factors come into play, weather and hill preferences, physical condition and nerve.

So some days, they’re skiing with contending in mind, some days they’re skiing only to survive.

And sometimes – for the champions, most of the time – everything comes together in a perfect balance of risk and reward, and the only thought is to get to the bottom first, the only goal is to win.

For almost all of this World Cup season and the second half of the last, Manuel Osborne-Paradis has been in that happy place where his confidence and abilities are in a parallel crest. There wasn’t a race he couldn’t win, and he knew it.

Coming home to Whistler for the Olympic Games downhill, to the mountain where he learned the sport, coming into a situation with wild, unpredictable weather, where he knew so much more about the hill than his competition, there would obviously be no holding back.

—-

Osborne-Paradis was .12 seconds back of Defago’s time at the first interval, and had pulled even with him by the second. The crowd at the finish erupted when the numbers flashed on the big screen.

Al CHAREST/QMI AGENCY
But at nearly that same moment, heading into Coaches Corners, he made a mistake that slipped by in an instant.

“I had the ski fully loaded,” he said afterwards. “You go right into the dark (shadows) there, and I just couldn’t see some of the bumps, and it almost high sided me over”

In real time, it didn’t look like much, but it was enough. The speed lost in that corner killed Osborne-Paradis – who is normally a great glider – in the flats. His times slipped farther and farther behind Defago’s, and by the finish, he was 1.13 seconds – an eternity – back, which would eventually leave him in 17th place.

“One turn blew my whole race,” Osborne-Paradis said.

Read the entire article here.

Best of luck to the whole team in the upcoming Super G!

Alpine Canada sends 19 to Whistler

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Julien Cousineau, an Olympian after a spectacular 5th in Schladming last weekend

Named to the team today are:

WOMEN

• Brigitte Acton, Mont Tremblant, Que.
• Emily Brydon, Fernie, B.C.
• Marie-Michele Gagnon, Lac Etchemin, Que.
• Anna Goodman, Montreal
• Britt Janyk, Whistler, B.C.
• Shona Rubens, Canmore, Alta.
• Erin Mielzynski, Guelph, Ont.

MEN

• Julien Cousineau, Lachute, Que.
• Robbie Dixon, Whistler
• Jeffrey Frisch, Mont Tremblant
• Erik Guay, Mont Tremblant
• Louis-Pierre Helie, Berthierville, Que.
• Jan Hudec, Calgary
• Michael Janyk, Whistler
• Tyler Nella, Toronto
• Manuel Osborne-Paradis, Invermere, B.C.
• Ryan Semple, Mont Tremblant
• Brad Spence, Calgary
• Trevor White, Calgary

Paradis picks up silver in Wengen

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The Wengen course is a fear-inducing string of steep fall-away corners, and especially treacherous near the peak. It’s regarded as one of the most dangerous downhill courses in the world.

Quite an accomplishment for North Vancouver’s Manuel Osborne-Paradis to claim silver here today.

Photograph by: FRANCK FIFE, AFP/Getty Images

Very good article by Stephen Brunt here.

But the course itself is really the thing, the longest and fastest downhill on the circuit, and the kind of crazy layout that a kid might come up with. “They’d never let you design a course like that now,” says the Canadian team’s men’s head coach, Paul Kristofic, and he’s right about that.

Before they get to the finish nearly 4.5 kilometres from the start house, the skiers will have passed through a narrow rock passage (the Hundschopf) followed by a precipitous drop that makes it seem as if they’re falling off a cliff, navigated a wild chicane, gone through a tunnel and over a bridge, and passed through sections named for incidents and people past: the Russi jump, after its builder, Bernard Russi; the Minschkante, where in 1965 Joos Minsch suffered a terrible crash; the Austrian Hole, where during a single race in 1954 a large number of Austrian skiers fell (which in Switzerland counts as a very good day indeed); the Kernen-S, named after 2003 winner Bruno Kernen; and the Canadian Corner, where Dave Irwin wiped out in 1975.

Canadian Cowboys facebook site

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Funny image to post right after the last Christmas image, but … this is the icon from the Canadian Cowboys (Alpine Canada ski team) facebook site. The FB site is here.

Even though the team has lost 5 members to season ending injuries in the last month, they still have some very strong medal contenders among them. North Vancouver’s own Manny Osborne-Paradis comes to mind.

Manny wins Val Gardena

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DECEMBER 19,2009

Manuel Osborne-Paradis won for the second time early in the 2009-’10 World Cup season, taking the classic Saslong downhill in Val Gardena, Italy, on Saturday (Dec. 19).

The Whistler Mountain Ski Club alumnus, who won the Bombardier Lake Louise Winterstart super-G last month, is the first Canadian to win twice in a season since Thomas Grandi won two giant slalom races in three days in December 2004.

“Before Christmas normally I don’t ski that well,” Osborne-Paradis said in an Alpine Canada Alpin statement. “But I have been getting better and I am figuring out these courses more and more, just becoming so much more confident on every course.”

“This is the first year that I have had a game plan on every course before I have got here, just with the experience that I have. I have put in my time and now it’s just paying off with me being able to know the courses,” he said.

Osborne-Paradis, the ninth racer of the day to leave the start hut, won with a time of two minutes, 01.27 seconds. Austria’s Mario Scheiber put up the day’s greatest challenge to the Canadian, finishing 13 hundredths of a second behind. Ambrosi Hoffmann of Switzerland was third in 2:01.52.

Osborne-Paradis now has eight career World Cup podium results and has become the fifth Canadian male alpine ski racer with more than two career World Cup wins.

Read full article here.

A day of extremes at Lake Louise

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Manny Osborne-Paradis won his first World Cup Super G today in Lake Louise while team leader John Kucera was airlifted off the mountain with a broken leg that will almost certainly keep him out of the upcoming 2010 Games.

Photograph by: Andy Clark, Reuters

LAKE LOUISE, Alta. — John Kucera’s 2010 Olympic dream likely ended in a high-speed crash Sunday during the super-G slalom at the Bombardier Winterstart World Cup.

The 25-year-old Calgarian, one of the favourites in the race, suffered a broken left leg when he went off the steepest part of the course as he attempted to complete a C-turn and crashed into a catch net.

He was airlifted off the mountain by helicopter and transported by ground ambulance to Banff hospital for X-rays. An Alpine Canada spokesman revealed that Kucera’s injury will require surgery but didn’t specify which bone was broken.

“It’s a tough day . . . I mean it’s a good day but a tough day,” frowned a concerned teammate Jan Hudec when he learned of the extent of the injury. “He was skiing so good . . .”

The good day were first-, fourth- and fifth-place finishes for the seven-man Canadian team.

Read the whole article here.

Hermann Maier Ends His Storied Ski Racing Career

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One of the greatest of all time calls it a career …

flachau_hermann_maier_04

By Patrick Lang

A week prior the start of the next alpine World Cup season one of the greatest legends of the sports surprisingly announced his decision to retire from the ski tour.

Double Olympic champion Hermann Maier, who turns 37 in December, informed the amazed Austrian reporters gathered at the last minute in Wien by his press agent and the Austrian Ski Federation that he had decided to end his career as one of the leading heroes of the sports after overcoming another series of health problems.
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“I just felt that it was time to retire as I felt fully healthy again. I’m closing an important chapter in my life but I’m sure that there will be many more exciting moments to face from now on.”

maier naganoMaier exploded on the ski scene in February 1997 a month after breaking a hand in a downhill crash at Chamonix in surprisingly beating all top-favorites in a Super-G race at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. He became a world star a year later at the 1998 Winter Olympics clinching two gold medals only a few days after a horrendous crash in downhill. He was nicknamed “The Herminator” afterwards by his colleagues, the press and his numerous fans from all over the world because of his incredible determination and his reckless racing tactics.

He won two more gold medals at the 1999 World Championships at Vail/Beaver Creek, in Colorado, and kept on dominating the scene until 2001, winning a total of 13 races that season. In March 2000, he captured his second overall World Cup title with a record of 2000 points.

Unfortunately he suffered a terrible motorbike accident in August 2001 and was lucky to survive it after a series of operations. After working very hard during his rehabilitation, he celebrated an incredible comeback in 2003, winning the treacherous Super-G race at Kitzbühel and a silver medal at the World Championships at St Moritz.

Read the entire article here.

Canada’s cross-country ski team the strongest ever

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This is big news. Canada has been a perennial force in alpine skiing, but to have a strong cross-country team is really new. Props to them for the rapid development.

Photograph by: Dominic Ebenbichler, Reuters
Photograph by: Dominic Ebenbichler, Reuters

By Kristina Rutherford, CTVOlympics.ca
September 24

The strongest cross-country ski team in Canadian history is gearing up for the Vancouver Olympics.

Never before has Canada fielded a team with the number of medal contenders as the one preparing to kick off the World Cup season, national team leader Dave Wood said Thursday following the team’s official announcement in Canmore, Alta.

“The team we’ll take into the Games next February, I believe, will be the strongest and the deepest team we’ve ever head,” said Wood, a fixture with the national program for more than a decade.

“In 2006, we had a couple of strong people. In 2002 we had one. And now, we’ve got four boys that had podiums last year in the World Cup. Sara Renner and Chandra Crawford have had podiums everywhere.

“Things are looking good for us.”

Read the entire article here.

Speed skiers on snow in NZ

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osborne paradis

The Olympic season began in earnest for members of Canada’s alpine ski teams last week, with the men’s team training on the snow at Coronet Peak, near Queenstown, New Zealand.

Whistler’s Manuel Osborne-Paradis, who won the first World Cup downhill race of his career in Kvitfjell, Norway last season is one of the 16 ski racers at the high-intensity camp.

“Obviously everyone knows what’s at stake this year with the Olympics in Whistler. And this is the beginning of the process,” said the 24-year-old Osborne-Paradis, a 2006 Olympian who has six career World Cup podium results. “I have actually never been to New Zealand and so I am looking forward to getting there and getting back on the snow.”

Read full article on Pique

The men’s team is highlighted by John Kucera who won the gold medal in the men’s downhill at the World Championships in Val D’Isere, France during the month of February. At the same competition, Jan Hudec fell and injured his knee. After surgery and recovery, Hudec, along with teammates Manuel Osborne-Paradis and Erik Guay will all be training over the summer.

vanderbeekTechincal skier Michael Janyk will be attending the camp after winning a bronze medal, Canada’s first ever World Championship technical medal, also in Val D’Isere.

The ladies team will be headlined by Britt Janyk, Geneviève Simard, Emily Brydon and Kelly VanderBeek, all of whom have earned World Cup podium finishes.

Read full article on ctvolympics.ca

Snubbed Down Under

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The Aussies are playing hardball with the Canadian Freestyle team’s summer training grounds down under …

mogulsIt’s become a mean old sporting world out there as countries scrap for every advantage heading towards the 2010 Winter Olympics.

There’s been plenty of griping from other nations as Canada has tried to protect its home-field advantage in Vancouver.

Some competitors are practicing a little payback. It turns out the Canadian moguls team has been denied the opportunity do on-snow training in Australia the past two summers.

Canada’s Alex Bilodeau will duke it out with Australia’s Dale Begg-Smith at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

The Aussies wanted unlimited access to the 2010 Olympic moguls site at Cypress Mountain, near Vancouver, in exchange for letting the Canadians continue to train at their site in Perisher.

Australia’s big hope for 2010 is B.C. native and defending Olympic champion Dale Begg-Smith, an Aussie by convenience who lives 20 minutes from Cypress.

The Canadians weren’t about to cave in to those demands with the best men’s moguls team in the world, including reigning World Cup champion in Alex Bilodeau, who tore up the circuit with Begg-Smith on the sidelines after tearing up his knee.

This has potential to be a great duel at the 2010 Games.

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Tour de France of Ski: Stage 18, Annecy

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After stage 16, Lance Armstrong remains in second place behind teammate and tour leader Alberto Contador of Spain. Armstrong remains 1 minute 37 seconds back after mounting a most impressive comeback of sheer heart on the route from Martigny to Bour-Saint-Maurice. Armstrong fell back of Contador and other tour leaders by as much as 35 seconds. He probably will not win his 8th Tour de France, but the comeback by the 37-year-old during stage 16, catching back up to Contador, was as impressive as any of his seven tour wins.

AnnecyNow the riders head to the town of ultimate beauty, Annecy. You don’t live there now, but if ever any of us would be so lucky to call Annecy home, well, you’d be pretty happy. The town of art and history is called the Venice of the Alps. Annecy is also France’s nomination to host the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Tour de France of Ski: Stage 18, Annecy

There’s a reason the 60% of all World Cup alpine events in France are hosted by Annecy. Le Grand Bornand, Manigold, La Clusaz, Megeve, les Saisies are all ski areas within 20 miles of Annecy.

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Verbier, Stage 15 of the Tour de France of Ski

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20090717_Verbier_700

Stage 15 of the Tour de France of Ski, Verbier

Stage 14 of the Tour de France finally brought a minor shake-up to the Rinaldo Nocentini-Alberto Contador-Lance Armstrong trifecta that has been frozen in the top three positions for nearly a week now. Enter American George Hincapie. Hincapie, a former teammeate of Armstrong, was part of a small breakway group that finished just beind stage 14 winner Serguei Ivanov of Russia. Five seconds faster and Hincapie would have wrestled the yellow jersey away from Rinaldo Nocentini of Italy. For the time being, Hincapie will have to settle for second place, five seconds off the lead. Alberto Contador remains six seconds back, and Lance Amstrong, now in fourth place, is still just eight seconds off the lead.

It’s all about to get very interesting as the tour enters the Alps, stage 15 winding from Pontarlier to Verbier.

Tour de France of Ski: Stage 15, Verbier

Discussion and debate over the world’s greatest ski resort will always involve Verbier. On piste, off piste, day life, night life, Verbier has no weakness. And we haven’t begun to talk about the blueberry pancakes at the Offshore coffee bar.

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