And then there were four.
The lines on the poles were snapping as winds whipped the flags at the finish and the racers on the Olympiabakken course at Kvitfjell, Norway Saturday (March 2). The race jury both lowered the start and sent skiers to the less precipitous side of the biggest jump (Russi) on course in an effort to keep the race safe. Several racers, including those near the top of the finish order, suggested the race was less than fair.
Frenchman Adrien Theaux was brilliant in his execution tucking where others couldn’t and holding a clean edge in the turns to claim his second career World Cup win. Fittingly, his other win – in 2011 – came at the next and final DH stop at Lenzerheide, Switzerland. He said he had “caught a good run” with the wind and said the success of the French in the Schladming World Championships had provided momentum missing early this season.
Aksel Lund Svindal used his big body to power through the wind and claimed second to lift his lead of the downhill standings. Just four men remain in the chase with the chance to win, Svindal, third place finisher Klaus Kroell and Italians Dominik Paris (ninth) and Christof Innerhofer (tenth). Svindal leads by 58 with Paris down by 61 and Innerhofer 69.
“Above it was okay, but below I had a little too much wind to be able to win here. You go 130kph and then you see how the wind comes to meet you,” said Svindal. “It is incredibly difficult to stay in position. Such a race with changing winds is just not fair.”
Kroell, too, said the wind made the course unfair, but went a step further. “The front runners have to be satisfied that they had a good wind. The decision (to race) today was not only unfair, it was dangerous.”
Canadians held the early lead in the race with Manuel Osborne-Paradis and Jan Hudec sitting one-two before the first seed attacked the wind blown course. Challenging racers repeatedly led the two over the early sections of the course only to be blown back on the sunny last straight set of rolls into the finish. Several times skiers were forced to break their tuck in the final 300 meters to account for wind gusts. Only three could beat Osborne-Paradis with Hudec dropping to sixth on a fabulous late charge by Silvano Varettoni.
Svindal also made up ground on overall leader Marcel Hirscher, absent in Kvitfjell resting for his final push in the technical races at Kranjska Gora next weekend and Lenzerheide’s finals. Hirscher’s lead dipped to 129 and Svindal also has a super G on Sunday to cut further into the lead.
“The battle for the big ball is not over,” Svindal said while wishing Hirscher a happy birthday.
Top US finishers was Travis Ganong in 16th.
by Hank McKee
Men’s World Cup downhill, Kvitfjell, Norway, March 2, 2013
1 Theaux, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
2 Svindal, Head/Head/Head
3 Kroell, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
4 Osborne-Paradis, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
5 Varettoni, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
6 Hudec, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
7 Franz, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
8 Streitberger, Head/Head/Head
9 Paris, Nordica/Nordica/Marker
10 Innerhofer, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
Men’s World Cup downhill, Kvitfjell, Norway, March 2, 2013. … It is the 59th race of the World Cup season. … the 29th for men and the eighth of nine men’s downhills. … It is the 49th Cup race hosted by Kvitfjell. … the 24th men’s downhill.
It is the second career World Cup win for Adrien Theaux, the last coming at Lenzerheide March 16, 2011. … It is the first French win of Kvitfjell DH since Nic Burtin in 1998. … Theaux has one additional podium this season, in super G at Lake Louise Nov. 25.
It is the 49th career World Cup podium for Aksel Lund Svindal. … his 16th in downhill. … It is his seventh career podium at Kvitfjell, though he has yet to win at the site. … It is his tenth podium of the season includingtwo medals at World Championships.
It is the 22nd career World Cup podium for Klaus Kroell. … his 19th in downhill. … It is his eighth podium at Kvitfjell where he has won three times (including a DH/SG sweep last season). … It is his fourth podium of the season. … all in downhill.
It is the 11th career top four result for Manuel Osborne-Paradis. … and his fourth at Kvitfjell. … It is his best finish of the season surpassing a seventh in DH at Val Gardena Dec. 15. … It is the ninth career top six in World Cup for Jan Hudec. … And is his best result of the season, topping a ninth in DH at World Championships. … Travis Ganong matches his fifth best career finish. … and matches his third best of the season. … It is the seventh scoring result of the season for Marco Sullivan. … the 11th score of the season for Erik Guay. … and the 17th career score for Benjamin Thomsen.
With seven races remaining on the schedule Marcel Hirscher (did not race) holds the lead of the World Cup overall standings 1215-1086 over Aksel Lund Svindal. … Felix Neureuther (did not race) is third overall with 798pts. … Ted Ligety (did not race) is fourth with 796pts. … Erik Guay is top Canadian in 16th with 378pts. … Mathematically eight me can still win the title. … Svindal holds the lead of the downhill standings 439-381 over Klaus Kroell with one remaining race. … Dominik Paris (ninth in race) is third with 378pts. … Christof Innerhofer (tenth in race) is fourth with 370pts. … No other men can win the DH crown. … Guay is sixth with 267pts. … Marco Sullivan leads the US in 14th with 134pts. … Austria leads the men’s Nations Cup 4935-3380 over Italy. … France is third with 2763. … The US is sixth with 1409pts and Canada eighth with 865pts.
FIS World Cup
March 2, 2013
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Total Time||FIS Points|
|2||20||421328||SVINDAL Aksel Lund||1982||NOR||1:29.29||2.92|
|> 15||14||191964||POISSON David||1982||FRA||1:30.36||19.37|
|32||54||400281||VAN HEEK Marvin||1991||NED||1:31.24||32.90|
|38||55||192504||MERMILLOD BLONDIN Thomas||1984||FRA||1:31.57||37.98|
|Did not start 1st run|
|Did not finish 1st run|