Steamboat Springs Maybe, if things had been different, Saturday would have come a year ago for Steamboat Springs Alpine skier Anna Marno.
If she hadn’t torn her ACL while freeskiing nearly a year ago, for instance, she surely would have earned her first World Cup start late last season.
Or, if she hadn’t torn that same ACL, in her left knee, in February 2011, she may well have had ticked that World Cup first off her list even earlier.
Marno didn’t dwell on any of that Wednesday, however. Instead, fresh off the hill from a day of training, she only looked ahead, and ahead lies one of the many goals she’s long dreamed about. On Saturday, she’ll get her first World Cup start in Beaver Creek at the Nature Valley Raptor World Cup Races, in the super-G.
“It’s something I’ve looked forward to for a very long time now,” she said. “Saturday, I just want to have fun and have a good race.”
Marno’s race is sandwiched in the middle of three days of big action at Beaver Creek. Training runs have been underway all week and the first real race is Friday, the downhill. The super-G is Saturday, and the women’s side of things wraps up Sunday with the slalom.
The men then take to the hill Dec. 6 through Dec. 8.
For Marno, Saturday is about both opportunity seized and opportunity to be seized.
She was leading the NorAm Cup standing a year ago when she fell awkwardly in a snowdrift while skiing in Austria, early in the morning before the day’s training had started.
“I knew something was wrong pretty much immediately,” she said. “I felt the pop, and there was some pain.”
She was taken to the hospital upon reaching the bottom of the hill, then boarded a plane to the United States the next day, another season turning from promising to finished seemingly in an instant.
She was on crutches for three weeks after surgery and only started returning to full strength five months later, a long process filled with stops and starts, but one that nevertheless delivered her strong and healthy to the 2013-14 season.
That injury, it doesn’t bother her.
“It’s more been about getting used to skiing again, getting used to going fast,” she said. “It’s about getting the need for speed back instead of just skiing a course. I could (do) just fine, but pushing it to the next level, that takes a little longer.”
She wasn’t fast Wednesday, training, finishing a downhill training session in 66th place, but she’s confident when she mixes aggressiveness with skill, she can ski with the women of the World Cup.
It’s only in the strictest sense that Saturday represents something new for Marno. She’s far from the wide-eyed teenager who first earned a spot on the U.S. Team, years removed from being starstruck by celebrities on start lists and nowhere near frightened by the pressure of a big race down a steep hill.
She said the World Cup environment took some adjusting to, especially in Beaver Creek, which is breaking in a new course for the race. But in so many other ways, she’s perfectly at home, and she said she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’ve definitely had some ups and downs, but when I look back, I couldn’t imagine my first World Cup in a better place than Beaver Creek,” she said. “I’ve always liked to race here, and to have it be my first one, it’s pretty cool.
“I have a lot of family coming to watch, family and friends, and I want to to ski my best and see where that puts me in this kind of field.”
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9
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