WENGEN, Switzerland – The song remained the same at the conclusion of the alpine combined Friday in Wengen, with the top three finishers after the morning downhill run all finding their way to the podium. Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud took his second victory of the season clocking a total time of 2:37.61 seconds, nudging out his countryman Aksel Lund Svindal by only 0.04 seconds for the win. French downhill ace Adrien Theaux also hung on for a surprise third, 0.13 seconds behind.
For Jansrud, the victory is certainly a welcome one, as he hasn’t quite seen the form that led him to dominate the speed circuit last season in the absence of Svindal.
“You’re at the start and you try and push it. That’s what I did, you have to be aggressive going in, but I never know what to expect,” Jansrud explained in the finish. “I think I pulled off a pretty good run on the top and the middle section and suddenly I kicked off in the last third there and I felt like I wasn’t going to save it. But somehow I found my new outside ski and managed to fight my way to the bottom. That made me quite surprised when I came in and saw the green light, so that was a happy moment. It’s pretty sweet.”
Svindal led after the morning downhill run by a sizable margin of 0.72 seconds over Theaux, and 0.90 over Jansrud, but wasn’t quite able to hang on, with victory slipping through his fingers in the last few slalom gates.
“I had a big margin from the downhill and that’s definitely what secured the podium,” he admitted. “It was a bit of a bonus today, a double victory for Norway. We didn’t really expect that. Good times.”
Theaux, who rarely finds himself in slalom gates, was pleased with his performance and pointed to superb hill preparation as the key to his chance at a podium result.
“Some days are good, some days not, but today was OK in slalom,” Theaux said. “The slope was really good and the snow was perfect for us because when you are a downhiller and you start 29 or 30, sometimes the snow is not good. But today was very good so I’m very happy.”
The American contingent was led by Jared Goldberg who finished with strong 12th-place result after a commendable downhill run (ninth) and an equally impressive pass through the slalom gates.
“It was definitely solid, it was actually the second best I’ve done in combined,” said Goldberg, whose best World Cup result is 11th in the 2014 Kitzbuehel combined. “The hill was difficult, it was icy. I was charging and having some little mistakes but it was good to make some good slalom turns.”
Looking ahead to tomorrow’s downhill, the consensus among competitors is that Svindal will be the man to beat come race time, as he was also fastest in Thursday’s training run. Racers will keep their fingers crossed as weather is scheduled to roll in overnight, potentially altering current conditions and schedules.
“I had a really good run this morning, and I’ll try and make that maybe a little bit better tomorrow. But on race day, anything can happen,” Svindal said. “Hopefully I have a good race and can pull off a good run.”
“Every victory gives confidence, but I think Aksel took nine-tenths out of me today,” added Jansrud. “That’s too much. I need to spend some time now to go back and watch some video to try and see what he does. He’s the guy to beat tomorrow and the bar is set, we’ll just see.”
For the American Goldberg, taking what he learned in today’s downhill run into tomorrow’s race will be critical if he is to match his current World Cup downhill best, 12th in the 2014 edition of the Lauberhorn.
“I feel really good, today was a good training run for tomorrow,” he said. “I learned a lot today. The course is a little smoother in places, a little bit different than usual. I think I learned where I can go straighter and make up some time for tomorrow.”
The 86th edition of the Lauberhorn downhill is scheduled to kick off at 12:30 p.m. CET Saturday, with the slalom scheduled for Sunday.
By Hank McKee
- Jansrud, Head/Head/Head
- Svindal, Head/Head/Head
- Theaux, Head/Head/Head
- Mermillod Blondin, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
- Paris, Nordica/Nordica/Marker
- Gisin, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
- Kosi, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Baumann, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
- Kriechmayr, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Fill, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Men’s World Cup alpine combined, Wengen, Switzerland, Jan. 15, 2016. … It is the opening race of the 86th annual Lauberhorn, the oldest race series on the World Cup calendar. … It is the 17th race of 45 on the men’s World Cup schedule and the first of three scheduled combined races. … It is the 26th World Cup combined hosted at least in part at Wengen. … Swiss Carlo Janka is the defending champion. … Wengen is set to host the combined, a downhill (Jan. 16) and a slalom (Jan. 17).
- Downhill leg winner Aksel Lund Svindal had a 0.72-second margin entering the slalom leg.
- It is the 12th career World Cup win for Kjetil Jansrud … his first in combined. … His next best result at Wengen was fifth in DH last season. … It is his second win of the season, the other coming in a parallel GS at Alta Badia Dec. 21. … The winning margin is 0.04 of a second. … Top eight are within the same second. … Top 15 within two seconds.
- It is the 64th career World Cup podium finish for Aksel Lund Svindal … his seventh in combined and his second at Wengen in combined. … It is his seventh podium of the season.
- It is the 13th career World Cup podium for Adrien Theaux, his first in combined, though he has finished two World Cup combined races in fourth. … It is his second podium of the season, the first the win in DH at Santa Caterina Dec. 29. … Theaux’s previous best result in a Wengen combined was seventh in 2011.
- Jared Goldberg matches his second best career finish and beats his finish in last season’s Wengen combined by three placings. … It is his second score of the season, the other in super G at Val Gardena Dec. 18. … It is the third career World Cup scoring result for Bryce Bennett, the other two coming in December (Dec. 4 Beaver Creek DH and Dec. 19 Val Gardena DH). … It is the first career World Cup scoring result for Broderick Thompson. … It is the first score of the season for 2011 World Cup overall champion Ivica Kostelic.
- Marcel Hirscher (did not race) holds the lead of the World Cup overall standings 801-716 over Svindal. … Henrik Kristoffersen (did not race) is third with 571pts. … Ted Ligety (DNF SL) is ninth with 248pts.
- Austria leads the men’s Nations Cup 2533-2118 over Norway. … France is third with 1993pts. … The U.S. is fifth with 1067pts and Canada ninth with 273pts.
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points|
|2||12||421328||SVINDAL Aksel Lund||1982||NOR||1:48.10||49.55||2:37.65||+0.04||0.29|
|4||8||192504||MERMILLOD BLONDIN Thomas||1984||FRA||1:49.74||48.15||2:37.89||+0.28||2.04|
|11||10||380292||ZRNCIC DIM Natko||1986||CRO||1:50.67||48.54||2:39.21||+1.60||11.67|
|14||54||194542||GIRAUD MOINE Valentin||1992||FRA||1:50.35||49.01||2:39.36||+1.75||12.77|
|40||51||110324||VON APPEN Henrik||1994||CHI||1:52.86||52.69||2:45.55||+7.94||57.93|
|Did not start 2nd run|
|Did not start 1st run|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|13||422139||KILDE Aleksander Aamodt||1992||NOR|