Kroell ruins Norway's party, takes DH lead
Were it not for Klaus Kroell the aquaveit would be flowing in Kvitfjell celebrating the end of a 15 year victory drought on home snow. But Kroell instead will head to World Cup finals with the lead of the downhill standings and Kjetil Jansrud is left lamenting the loss of two races in a row by a combined five hundredths of a second.
Norway hasn't seen a home snow win since Lasse Kjus won at Kvitfjell in 1997 and had Jansrud, the fastest skier in both training runs here and the third place finisher behind a tie in Friday's super G, was in the lead with veteran teammate Askel Lund Svindal in second. But Kroell, the starter just after Svindal and created an eruption in the stands by giving Norway a 1-2 finish chance, was happy to spoil the party. Somehow he dug out a smidgin of speed in the final turns of the 1994 Olympic course to pull out the narrow win by .02.
Didier Cuche, the downhill standings leader after the last race at Sochi, started well, but dropped steadily back as small errors compounded and finished tenth and evaporated his slim tour lead. Beat Feuz had good speed but finished a .66 back for fourth place and will head to finals three points behind Cuche - in third - in the fight for the downhill globe.
Kroell's run did not look, at first blush, to be good enough to unseat Jansrud. He was .32 off the pace at the second of five interval timers. But the last remaining veteran of the Austrian started peeling off the tenths the rest of the way down the 3034m course. A smooth tuck and some fast skis, squeezed out the narrow victory, the sixth of his career, third of the season, and second in two days, having also nipped Jansrud in Friday's super G when he tied Feuz for the win.
Canadian Ben Thomsen finished ninth, managing to keep attacking after needing a miraculous recovery just to stay on course and upright. It is his third straight single digit DH result. Teammate Erik Guay posted, and was disappointed in, 12th place while Robbie Dixon charged from the 32nd start to finish 19th in his first downhill since injury earlier this season.
American Erik Fisher was on the verge of providing a bright spot for the battle-weary squad. With an eye on breaking into the top 25 for an invitation to World Cup finals, Fisher was in contention for a possible podium position through the first half of the course when he got in the back seat, went down on a hip, pulled him self back to his feet but caught an edge and went down for good sliding off into the fencing. There was a course delay while he was checked over, but he was on his feet and on his skis before the next racer took to the course.
Travis Ganong, in 30th, was the only American to score.
MORE TO COME
by Hank McKee
Men's World Cup downhill, Kvitfjell, Norway, March 3, 2012
1 Kroell, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
2 Jansrud, Head/Head/Head
3 Svindal, Head/Head/Head
4 Feuz, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
5 Paris, Nordica/Nordica/Marker
6 Poisson, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
7 Janka, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
8 Theaux, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
9 Thomsen, Head/Head/Head
10 Cuche, Head/head/Head
Men's World Cup downhill, Kvitfjell, Norway, March 3, 2012. ... It is the 37th race of the men's 44 race 2012 World Cup schedule. ... the tenth of 11 downhills. ... the second of a three race set at Kvitfjell.
It is the sixth career World Cup win for Klaus Kroell. ... his fourth in DH. ... It is his third win of the season and second in two days, the other a tie for first in super G also at Kvitfjell. ... He has been in the top 10 of every DH this season.
It is the ninth career World Cup podium placing for Kjetil Jansrud. ... his first in downhill. ... It is his fourth podium of the season in three different disciplines. ... he had never scored a podium in a speed race (SG or DH) before this season. ... He does not yet own a Cup victory.
It is the 36th career World Cup podium result for Aksel Lund Svindal. ... his 11th in DH. ... It is his third podium of the season and first since Dec. 3 at Beaver Creek (SG). ... The last time Norwegians had two skiers on the same podium was Feb. 29, 2004 at Kranjska Gora in slalom (Truls Ove Karlsen and Tom Stiansen 1-2).
North Americans: It is the third career World Cup top 10 for Benjamin Thomsen all of them coming since Feb. 4. ... It is the 11th best of 14 scoring finishes at Kvitfjell for Erik Guay. ... It is the fourth scoring result of the season for Robbie Dixon and second best. ... It is thre 16th best of 16 scoring results this season for Jan Hudec. ... the seventh best of seen for Travis Ganong.
Standings: Beat Feuz (fourth in race) leads the World Cup overall standings 1190-1135 for Marcel Hirscher (did not race). ... Ivica Kostelic (did not race) is third with 1043. ... Svindal is fourth with 919pts. ... Ted Ligety (did not race) holds ninth with 674pts and Bode Miller ( did not race) tenth with 612pts. ... Guay is top Canadian in 16th with 488pts and Hudec 17th with 482. ... Kroell takes over the lead of the downhill standings 569-521 for Didier Cuche (10th in race). ... Feuz is third with 518pts. ... With one race remaining those three are the only remaining contenders for the crown. ... Bode Miller is fourth with 383pts and Guay sixth with 343pts. ... Austria leads the men's Nations Cup 6456-3940 over Switzerland. ... Italy is third with 3190. ... The US is fifth with 1855 and Canada seventh with 1533pts.
FIS World Cup
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Total Time||FIS Points|
|3||15||421328||SVINDAL Aksel Lund||1982||NOR||1:46.24||6.04|
|55||61||400281||HEEK, VAN Marvin||1991||NED||1:50.05||53.95|
|Did not start 1st run|
|Did not finish 1st run|