February 07, 2015

BEAVER CREEK, Colo. (AP) American Travis Ganong woke up anxious. He'll rest a whole lot easier after winning a silver medal at the world championships.

He received a sterling course report, trusted it and wound up second in the downhill Saturday, finishing 0.24 seconds behind gold medalist Patrick Kueng of Switzerland.

Just when the U.S. needed a lift, too, after Bode Miller was lost for the world championships to injury during a crash in the super-G and Lindsey Vonn couldn't capture a medal in the women's downhill.

Ganong to the rescue.

''Skiing downhill is as fun as it gets. But when you do well, it's unbelievable,'' said the 26-year-old Ganong, who's from Squaw Valley, California. ''It's a perfect day.''

He got help from his mentor and former U.S. ski racer Daron Rahlves, who went over every nook and cranny of the course with him the last few days. It's a course Rahlves knows well.

Ganong's teammate Steven Nyman also radioed up to the start house after his run to provide this valuable course report - the snow's great, the course is fast and brakes aren't necessary.

Nyman's pinpoint analysis ended up costing him a spot on the podium, as Ganong's finish dropped Nyman into fourth place. Nyman was bummed, of course, but pleased for Ganong.

''He laid it down,'' Nyman said as the Americans placed three in the top 10, with Andrew Weibrecht tied for ninth.

The night before the race, Ganong said he tossed and turned. He knew the course was going to be packed and he was nervous.

''I woke up and said, `OK, I've skied my whole life. I've trained so hard the last couple of years, I love to ski, so let's just go out and have some fun,''' Ganong said. ''Skiing is the most fun thing you can do. When it works out well at a venue, on a stage like this, it's just so special.''

Ganong has been building toward this for years, taking incremental steps to improve his performance. For a downhiller, he was in no hurry.

His first big step forward was a fifth-place finish at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Then, in December, he won his first World Cup downhill race.

''In training for the last three or four years, I've been really fast against everyone in the whole world,'' Ganong said. ''It's just been a matter of time to figure out how to do that on a race day. Hopefully, this is just the beginning.''

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