Kroell wins, Bode 2nd, Canada 4-6-11
Klaus Kroell got the first win of the season that matters for Austria, claiming a men's downhill victory in Chamonix France today (Feb. 3) in the tightest race of the season, decided by a hundredth with five men packed within a tenth of the winner.
Bode Miller took a brisk line with one small bobble to finish second and Didier Cuche, winner of the last two downhills, was third. Erik Guay and Romed Baumann tied for fourth and Jan Hudec got sixth, still within two tenths.
Kroell went counter to the popular wisdom in getting the win, his career fourth.
Chamonix offered the first full length downhill since Wengen in mid-January, the classic old school La Verte des Houches providing a variety of skill tests. Chief among them is a 30 second glide over terrain in the middle of the nearly two mile track. Wisdom says the cranking Rocher blanc, a right hand (left foot) 50 degree turn above the Goulet jump is what sets up the speed for the glide. Kroell made a shambles of the Rocher blanc, but was so exquisite from there down he got the win, the first for Austria since Michael Walchhofer closed out his storied career with a win at Kvitfjell at the end of last season.
Miller, the next man out of the start after Kroell had broken up a Canadian rich podium (Guay first and Hudec second), was in full attack mode, coming into the Rocher blanc on a straighter line than any, dropped a hand to snow and powered around beautifully padding a narrow early interval margin. Down the flat he lost time but held the lead. A tiny mistake coming off the flat was just enough to drop him to second.
Downhill standings leader Cuche, a tactical master if ever there was one, had an early lead, lost it, regained it and then got edged at the finish beam.
Kroell said standing at the bottom while skier and skier came close to his time was
"brutal" but helped make the win all that sweeter. "It was so tight in the finish. I made a mistake at the top and knew I had to risk everything on the bottom section.. I have to be grateful for my technician. He made an amazing job with my skis and I was able to make up a lot of time. ... In the end, I was the lucky one."
He said it was not a good strategy and would seek to clean up his skiing on the upper portion of the course for the second of two downhills on Saturday. Friday's race was a replacement for the race cancelled from Val Gardena in December by high winds after 21 racers had finished.
Miller said the Chamonix course was slower than in past years which made it less demanding than usual. He said he just tried to hold his position. "A hundredth is somewhere out there - it could have been a million places where I could have lost that. Everyone is so close together with ability there's less things that separate the field. A lot of these races are unbelievably close. That's a challenge in itself to really make sure that you stay focused and pay attention to things that matter."
He said the snow was "really wet, kind of weird," making it difficult to predicts just how they would react.
It was a fabulous day for Canada with Guay fourth, Hudec sixth and upstart Benjamin Thomsen stunning the field with a personal best 11th place from the 50th start. Hudec set the race early standard as the fourth starter. "All things considered I did the maximum I think I could today, I'm pretty proud of that," Hudec said. "I think I got as much as I could out of that course."
Guay said seeing Hudec's run was an inspiration. "I watched Jan's run at the top and I thought for sure he would be the winner. ... It was pretty cool when we were sitting there 1-2, but unfortunately it seemed like the conditions changed quite a lot and people were putting down some extremely fast times."
It was Thomsen's run, however, that spiked the Canadian excitement. "Did you see Ben? Oh my goodness," said Hudec. "We were going nuts in the finish. All in all it was a pretty good day for the team."
Americans Erik Fisher and Travis Ganong also impressed with 12th and 13th place finishes both coming close to personal best results.
"Fisher has had a great approach the last couple of weeks," said mens coach Sasha Rearick. "He was out slalom training yesterday and has been skiing GS every morning. He executed some things really well today and it's good to see that momentum. Step by step Travis is getting more comfortable and looking for his tuck more and it's starting to pay off."
Bode Miller reacts to clock. Gepa photo
by Hank McKee
Mens' World Cup Downhill, Chamonix, France, Feb. 3, 2012
1 Kroell, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
2 Miller, Head/Head/Head
3 Cuche, Head/Head/Head
4 Baumann, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
4 Guay, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
6 Hudec, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
7 Puchner, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
8 Svindal, Head/Head/Head
9 Bertrand, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
10 Reichelt, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
Mens' World Cup Downhill, Chamonix, France, Feb. 3, 2012. ... It is the 25th of 45 races (now 44) on the men's 2012 World Cup schedule. ... It is the seventh of 11 downhills on the circuit. ... It is a make-up race from that cancelled out of Val Gardena Dec. 17 by high winds. ... It is the first of three races at Chamonix this season. ... It is the 31st Cup race hosted - at least in part - by Chamonix. ... the 12th DH.
It is the fourth career World Cup win for Klaus Kroell. ... his third in DH. ... It is his first win of the season and the first men's DH win of the season for Austria. ... It is his second career podium at Chamonix having placed third Jan. 29, 2011. ... It is his fourth podium of the season having placed third in DH's at Beaver Creek, Bormio and Kitzbuehel.
It is the 75th career World Cup podium result for Bode Miller. ... His 19th in downhill. ... It is his fifth Cup podium at Chamonix, but the first at the site in DH. ... It is his fourth podium of the season and second in DH (won Beaver Creek).
It is the 65th career World Cup podium result for Didier Cuche. ... His 32nd in DH. ... It is his third podium at Chamonix, all in DH. ... It is his fifth podium of the season, three of those DH wins.
North Americans: It is the 21st career World Cup top four for Erik Guay and his first at Chamonix. ... It is his third top four of the season and second in a week. ... It is the fifth best career Cup result for Jan Hudec and his best at Chamonix. ... It is the second best finish for Hudec this season after a fourth in SG at Lake Louise in November. ... It is a career best Cup result for Benjamin Thomsen. ... his previous best had been a 16th at Val Gardena Dec, 18, 2010. ... It is the third best career Cup result for Erik Fisher and best in three years. ... It is the second best career Cup result for Travis Ganong, one placing behind his finish at Kitzbuehel Jan. 21. ... It is the 56th career scoring finish for Marco Sullivan. ... his seventh of the season.
Standings: Ivica Kostelic (48th in race) maintains the lead of the World Cup overall standings 905-825 over Marcel Hirscher (did not race). ... Beat Feuz (21st in race) is third overall with 683pts. ... Ted Ligety (did not race) is fifth with 568pts and Miller seventh with 530pts. ... Guay is top Canadian in 17th with 326pts. ... Cuche maintains the lead of the downhill standings 437-397 over Kroell. ... Feuz is third with 318pts an Miller fourth with 301 and Guay sixth with 250pts. ... Austria leads the mens' Nations Cup standings 4173-2550 over Switzerland with Italy third at 2182. ... The US is fifth with 1515 and Canada ninth with 919pts.
FIS World Cup
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Total Time||FIS Points|
|8||15||421328||SVINDAL Aksel Lund||1982||NOR||2:04.59||3.96|
|54||57||400281||HEEK, VAN Marvin||1991||NED||2:07.99||40.36|
|64||63||30149||SIMARI BIRKNER Cristian Javier||1980||ARG||2:13.01||94.11|
|Did not start 1st run|