In its brief 20 year history, the Stelvio race track high above Bormio, Italy has earned its reputation as a tough test of downhill skills. It features high speeds, big airs, a series of tight super G turns, and it is intimidating. Weather doesn’t usually factor in. This season changed that scenario.
The start of the downhill race was delayed by an overnight snowstorm that dropped 10cm in town and significantly more on the course higher up. Early arrivals for inspection had power skiing at the edges of the race hill while the military skied the soft snow off the track. It was still snowing at the top of the course when the race finally started, and though the times were considerably slower than the final training run, it was quickly evident risk was required to walk away from Bormio with the win.
It also took some strength, which tour leader and favorite Viking Aksel Lund Svindal supplied in abundance.
Svindal — second fastest (but well within range) through the first four of five interval timers, closed the deal over the final section when many racers appeared gassed by the strain of the course. Entering the final section, his skis bounced over a rough, icy surface that had worked its way up through the fresh snow, and Svindal let his skis run, trusted them to provide the grip he would need and regained control as well as an impressive .51 of a second lead. That lead would shrink slightly after Hannes Reichelt, the next skier on course, finished as runner-up.
It would become Svindal’s 25th career World Cup win and fourth of the season as he padded his lead in the overall standings to 195points and 291points over the idle technical skiers Marcel Hirscher and Ted Ligety.
Reichelt, involved in a tie for the win here last season, was second with Canadian Erik Guay putting down a courageous textbook quality run for third, .51 off the winning time. Guay was pumped for several reasons, not the least of which was becoming the all-time Canadian leader with 21 World Cup podiums.
“I thought I skied a great race,” he said, “at least on top.” He suggested he gave the race away on the lower reaches of the track with less than perfect skiing.
Svindal, ever the gentleman, suggested he had gotten the benefit of clearing weather conditions.
“It is going well. It’s very exciting when you can ride almost every weekend for the win and it’s also fun,” said Svindal. “I believe that the top group had a bit of luck today. The snowfall was significantly less. Today it was an advantage, but sometimes the high number is a disadvantage.”
There was proof of improving conditions for the later starters. Matthias Mayer managed fifth from a start seven places after Svindal. Guillermo Fayed posted seventh from the 46th start position. Sillvano Varettoni in bib 30 finished ninth and bib 45 also made the top 10 as Markus Duerager tied American Travis Ganong.
Ganong had been the second skier out of the start, skiing very cleanly and with conviction through a thick snowfall to take and carry the early lead.
“Seems that this year conditions are always changing and I can’t seem to get on the right side of it,” said Ganong. “Today, I skied perfect. It was snowing so hard I was plowing through snow the whole way. I pushed hard and stuck to all my plan, (made) no big mistakes. I felt strong, wasn’t tired at all, which is not normal for Bormio. From where I started I’m so happy with my result.”
Bode Miller, celebrating a course he professes to like, launched an overly aggressive hard charging run that held some promise, but after dragging a hand in the snow well up the course he never regained enough speed to challenge. He finished 35th, out of the points.
Marco Sullivan, however, did pick up points with a 22nd-place finish, less than two seconds off the winning time.
See more photos from the race in our gallery.
Men’s World Cup downhill, Bormio, Italy, Dec. 29, 2013
Equipment – Skier, skis/boots/bindings
2 Reichelt, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
3 Guay, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
4 Theaux, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
6 Innerhofer, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
7 Defago, Rossignol/Lange/Rossignol
9 Varettoni, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
10 Ganong, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
Men’s World Cup downhill, Bormio, Italy, Dec. 29, 2013. … It is the 13th of 34 races on the men’s schedule. … The fourth of nine scheduled downhills. It is the 54th World Cup race hosted at Bormio, the 25th downhill.
It is the 25th career World Cup win for Aksel Lund Svindal, extending the Norwegian record. … It is his eighth World Cup downhill win and his first in Italy. … It is his fourth World Cup win of the season and second in DH after winning Beaver Creek Dec. 6.
It is the 26th career World Cup podium for Hannes Riechelt, his third of the season. It is his third podium scored at Bormio including a tie for first last season.
It is a Canadian record 21 World Cup podium results for Erik Guay… his second since Dec. 21. It is his first podium at Bormio, though he was fourth in the 2011 DH.
It is the third career World Cup top 10 for Travis Ganong… his second scored at Bormio. … Jan Hudec finished right in the middle of his career, at 32nd best of 64 World Cup scores. … His fifth best of the season and his second best scored at Bormio after finishing third Dec. 29, 2007. … It is the seventh time Manuel Osborne-Paradis has scored at Bormio. … It is the seventh time Marco Sullivan has scored at Bormio. … It is the fourth career scoring result for Conrad Pridy… his second of the season.
Aksel Lund Svindal extends his World Cup overall standings lead to 630-435 over Marcel Hirscher (did not race). … Ted Ligety (did not race) is third overall with 329pts. … Guay is top Canadian in seventh with 261pts… Bode Miller is eighth with 230pts. … Svindal leads the downhill standings 300-207 over Guay with Reichelt in third with 180pts. … Miller is top American in the DH standings in 16th with 80pts.
Austria leads the men’s Nations Cup 2172-1453 over France. … Italy is third with 1214pts. … The U.S. is fifth at 836pts and Canada seventh with 652pts.
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Total Time||FIS Points|
|1||20||421328||SVINDAL Aksel Lund||1982||NOR||1:54.08||0.00|
|23||48||194542||GIRAUD MOINE Valentin||1992||FRA||1:55.90||21.86|
|Did not finish 1st run|