The 74th Hahnenkamm downhill is in the books, and those who are keeping the books — the Kitzbuehler Ski Club — the results could not have turned out much better. Not only did their gamble with the weather work out providing decent conditions for the world’s most prestigious ski race, but from the Austrian view even the right guy, Hannes Reichelt, won.
“This is the epicenter of ski racing. … This was where the modern World Cup tour was thought of, and this is the premier event. The history here is legendary,” said Travis Ganong.
It was a brutal experience for American Bode Miller. With his whole arsenal on display including daring, fast skis and innovative line choices, Miller put up the early lead with a run down the Streif that amazed many and gave inspiration to most of the racers who followed.
“I knew it when I crossed the finish line that I’d just wasted another opportunity to win this course,” said Miller.
Downhill tour leader Aksel Lund Svindal used his size, strength and precise skiing to squeeze past Miller and into the lead, but Reichelt, skiing four starters later, buried a series of non-winning podium finishes this season by taking the lead at the first interval timer and holding it the entire 3494m-length of the adapted Kitzbuehel course, much to the delight of the organizers and the bulk of the 50,000 or so spectators.
Reichelt was masterful in his execution of a well thought out plan of attack, quickly regaining his tuck whenever possible, taking high lines and avoiding some of the rougher sections of the always rugged Streif.
When Miller ran in bib 11 he easily took the preliminary lead despite one significant error that left him shaking his head in the finish area. Heavy snows on Friday had dressed the course nicely, and his line choices were perfect for the conditions of the day. They did not go unnoticed, however, and radios crackled the information to the rest of the top seed still waiting to start.
“I skied well on top, didn’t do anything crazy but I skied well,” noted Miller. “Off Seidlalm jump I got really good air, and I knew I was going and then I just got high-sided. It’s one of those mistakes that you really hate to make in downhill. I was almost in my tuck and the ski came underneath me and got rotated and on a long turn there’s nowhere to go; you’re completely stuck on your tail going out of the course on the dead flat. That mistake is just too big of a mistake, especially right here where you’re on a flat and then a long traverse and then in to the Larchenschuss and it just cost me way, way too much time.”
Armed with the information Svindal made a few tactical adjustments, and though he was not particularly clean on the higher portions of the course, he used his strength to power through the bottom third and continued to shave time off Miller’s lead until he crossed the finish .13 ahead of the American.
Many of the remaining skiers would best Svindal’s early splits, but it was not until Reichelt, – the runner up at both Bormio and Wengen that the early lead was carried all the way to the finish. Determined, Reichelt grabbed the early lead and never lost it for first Austrian win on the Hahnenkamm Downhill since Michael Walchhofer in 2006.
Though Reichelt has been dealing with back pain, he showed no problem moving fluidly into his tuck on course and taking the win. Even Svindal acknowledged in television interviews that Miller had the race won if not for the error.
“It’s just execution, and in downhill execution is what matters. … It’s too many times I’ve made these stupid mistakes. They aren’t forced errors. It’s not on a tough part of the course, so it’s pretty heartbreaking,” concluded Miller.
Travis Ganong matched his career-best World Cup result in seventh, the same placing as Bormio in 2012. Ganong is cementing a reputation for performance on the more difficult courses, and likely also secured an Olympic starting spot with his result on the day.
“Last week I was sick in Wengen so I couldn’t really push hard, and it’s really nice to be back and feel healthy and strong. … I love Kitzbuehel, so it’s just nice to come to this place every year,” said Ganong. “So many people have become legends here in Kitzbuehel. The hill is amazing. It’s challenging, it’s really difficult, it gives an opportunity for people who are willing to push it to ski fast and win. It’s not like an easy gliding hill like Lake Louise or somewhere where you just have to pray to God that the weather works out, pick the right skis and tuck. Here good skiing pays off, and I love it.”
Although the Canadians struggled in the absence of Erik Guay who sat out with a bothersome knee and Jan Hudec who is taming a back injury, Ben Thomsen stepped up to the plate from bib 50 to finish 12th, his best result since the same placement in Wengen last season. The result enabled him to make Tier 1 criteria for Canadian Olympic team nomination in the final downhill race during the qualification period.
“It’s been a whole season of just trying to get in the points. You lose so much confidence when you’re not getting results,” said Thomsen, whose best World Cup result this season had been 37th in Bormio. “I wanted to go out there and I wanted to get an amazing result. For me, 12th was an amazing result. It was just good enough – I’m so happy I wasn’t 13th! I would put it in the top five best runs of my life, feeling-wise.”
To view more photos from this race click here.
Men’s World Cup downhill, Kitzbuehel, Austria, Jan. 25, 2014
Equipment – Skier, skis/boots/bindings
1 Reichelt, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
2 Svindal, Head/Head/Head
3 Miller, Head/Head/Head
4 Theaux, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
5 Innerhofer, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
6 Janka, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
7 Ganong, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
7 Franz, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
9 Jansrud, Head/Head/Head
10 Defago, Rossignol/Lange/Rossignol
Men’s World Cup downhill, Kitzbuehel, Austria, Jan. 25, 2014. … It is the 21st of 34 races on the men’s World Cup schedule. … The sixth of nine scheduled downhills. … It is the premier event of the 74th annual Hahnenkamm. … the 55th World Cup downhill hosted at Kitzbuehel.
It is the seventh career World Cup win for Hannes Reichelt… his second in downhill. … It is his first win of the season after three second-place finishes and a third. … He is he 23rd Austrian to win the Kitzbuehel downhill in the World Cup era, the first since Michael Walchhofer in 2006.
It is the 56th career World Cup podium for Aksel Lund Svindal… his 20th in downhill. … He matches his best DH finish at Kitzbuehel from 2014. … It is his sixth podium of the season, the fourth in downhill.
It is the 77th career World Cup podium for Bode Miller. … It is his third podium in a downhill at Kitzbuehel. … It is his second podium of the season, he previous in GS from Beaver Creek Dec. 8.
Travis Ganong matches his career-best result, also in DH, from Bormio Dec. 29, 2012. … His previous best at Kitzbuehel had been 12th Jan. 21, 2012. … Ben Thomsen collected his first score of the season. … It is the third-best DH result of the season for Manuel Osborne-Paradis. … He was fourth in DH at Beaver Creek Dec. 6. and seventh at Val Gardena Dec. 21. … It is the third-best result of the season for Marco Sullivan. … It is the third scoring result of the season for Steven Nyman. … The first of the season and sixth of the career for Jeffrey Frisch.
Aksel Lund Svindal strengthens his lead of the World Cup overall standings to 837-735 over Marcel Hirscher (did not race). … Alexis Pinturault (did not race) is third at 556pts. … Ted Ligety (did not race) is sixth overall with 449pts and Bode Miller eighth with 369pts. … Erik Guay (did not race) is top Canadian in 17th place with 261pts.
Svindal remains in control of the downhill standings 440-360 over Reichelt. … Patrick Kueng (14th in race) is third in the downhill standings with 239pts. … Guay is fourth with 207pts and Miller sixth with 185pts.
Austria leads the men’s Nations Cup 3317-2267 over France. … Italy is third wih 1951pts, the U.S. is sixth at 1271 and Canada ninth with 729pts.
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points|
|2||18||421328||SVINDAL Aksel Lund||1982||NOR||2:03.59||+0.21||2.33|
|38||41||194542||GIRAUD MOINE Valentin||1992||FRA||2:06.58||+3.20||35.53|
|50||58||990116||DE ALIPRANDINI Luca||1990||ITA||2:09.35||+5.97||66.29|
|Did not start 1st run|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|53||422139||KILDE Aleksander Aamodt||1992||NOR|