ITALY – Erik Read’s early season form showed no sign of wavering in Italy over the weekend after a trio of top 20 finishes.
On Sunday (Dec. 20), in the giant slalom, the Canmore-native put down the seventh-fastest second run of the day, shaving off nearly 1.50 seconds to settle into a respectable 19th place finish in a competitive field, in Alta Badia, Italy.
The following day, in the slalom event, after the first run, Erik sat in 19th place. In a similar fashion to the previous day, he threw down a much faster second run, dropping nearly six seconds off his first run and jumping up to finish the event in 16th place, just one second off the pace of Switzerland’s Ramon Zenhaeusern.
Following Christmas, Erik will resume the world cup schedule in Semmering, Austria, on Dec. 28-29.
A few kilometres down the road at Val Gardena, Erik’s younger brother Jeff Read was busy cruising down the famous course located in the Italian Dolomites.
Following his first world cup points after taking 26th place in the downhill at the FIS Ski World Cup in Val-d'Isère, France, Jeff struggled to keep pace with the world’s fastest skiers on the technical course.
Though he placed outside the top 30, finishing 48th (1:29.06) in the super G and 56th (2:05.80) in the downhill event, Jeff is remaining positive about the rest of the season.
“It’s a tough course for first-timers and I will definitely take that one as experience-building moving forward,” said Jeff. “It’s known for its interesting terrain that you don’t see anywhere else. If you’re not 100 per cent confident, it will show in your time and I did feel uneasy at times.”
At 23-years-old, he is racing against skiers who are more than 15 years older, giving them a distinct advantage with certain courses.
Currently, he is in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee, Austria, at a super G event. Following a short Christmas break, and training stint in Santa Caterina, Italy, he will travel to the world cup event in Bormio, Italy – another course he has never seen.
“You have to learn from every course you go to," he said. "When you see a new bump you learn how it moves you and how to handle something similar. Some people will have immediate success and for some, it will take a few years – you just have to figure it out for yourself.”
In the new year, the first three stops include three courses, which Jeff said he feels confident on and is excited to attack – Kitzbühel, Wengen and Garmisch.
“I have hill familiarity on those courses and I know I have shown speed on them in the past few years … so if I can ski the way I did on Val-d'Isère, then I can expect to be in that top 30 range more consistently.”