After he completed Bormio’s nasty tough Stelvio race track Saturday (Dec. 29) defending Cup downhill champion Klaus Kroell looked at the clock and let out a roar of frustration. With just a single podium for his seasonal record he had just aced the course to finish .02 of a second behind the fastest time of the day. … and he finished fourth.
Winning was Italian Dominik Paris and Austrian Hannes Reichelt. One tick of the hundredth clock back, in third, was tour speed leader Aksel Lund Svindal. Kroell was odd man out.
All told there were a dozen men within a second of the winning time, including American Travis Ganong (.49 out for seventh place).
That four men could finish any two mile race within two hundredths is hard to comprehend. That it could happen on this track is ludicrous. Speeds are high; zero to 60 in about six seconds, akin to a high end sports car. There is no let up. Every section demands the full attention and commitment. It is a bumpy course that tries to throw racers off their line, and a layout that moves skiers from shadows to bright sun and back again time and again. Plus, it is long, a little over two miles of strenuous work that tests the conditioning to its utmost. It is, as Grandpa might say, a wing dinger of a course.
It un-apologetically takes its toll: 11 Did-Not-Finishes and more recoveries and near misses than one should want to count. But the result is a stunning race and a fitting test of downhill prowess for the world’s best.
Paris had never won before and had only been on one Cup podium previously. Reichhelt, though he owns some super G wins, had never claimed a downhill before. And Svindal had skipped the final training run and the bib draw to nurse a sore throat. Truth be known the Norwegian might have won had he not gotten bounced low in his line, needing a couple of recoveries over the last third of course.
He wasn’t the only one to have held a lead over the eventual winners only to see it fade near the end; Johan Clarey and Kjetil Jansrud both knew that fate. Other skiers made up time low on course – Benjamin Thomsen and Romed Baumann for instance – but had left too much to make up.
“On entering the traverse I was a bit late and caught a wave,” said Paris, who ran before the top seed. “But I gave it my all and fought to the finish. I hope that it holds.”
“I’m so glad it worked out for me,” said Reichelt, “The first downhill win has a huge significance for me.”
Neither man seemed to mind having to split the winning purse.
Svindal laughed when he crossed the finish and saw the times. “This is something I have never seen,” he said. “I was on target. I was plus 0.01 and third place and I thought that must be a mistake that’s got to be second.”
No one else had seen it either. The last tie for a men’s downhill win was Jan. 21, 1978 at Kitzbuehel when Josef Walcher and Sepp Ferstl won. Michael Veith in third was .04 back. At Panorama, March 6, 1992 William Besse won by .01 over Guenther Mader and Daniel Mahrer who tied for second. AJ Kitt was fourth .18 behind.
It wasn’t fun for Kitt that day and this one wasn’t for Kroell. “The disappointment is great. At such a difficult downhill it is not normally so tight. Because of that it is extremely bitter.”
In the US camp, the result of Ganong was reason for glee, signalling another step toward where he expects to get.
“Finally I’m figuring out how to mentally attack these downhills. Before I was always kind of nervous because it was my first or second time skiing these courses. But this is my third year in Bormio and I feel like I can just relax a little bit and have fun. I love to ski and in the last few years I had to tone back how I ski because you have to really learn these downhills before you can attack. Now I feel that I know them, I can attack and I can be up there with the best guys.”
Of the Stelvio, he said: “You have to be gutsy on this course. It’s such a challenging hill. It never lets up. There are so many key turns, terrain and jumps that you have to nail. It’s bumpy and dark and it’s inevitable that you’ll have a mistake, but it’s whoever can push through that is going to be fast.”
It took a balance of abilities and tactics. Saturday four guys had it nailed.
Gepa photos, podium, Kroell and Ganong (on cover)
by Hank McKee
Men’s World Cup downhill, Bormio, Italy, Dec. 29, 2012
1 Reichelt, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
1 Paris, Nordica/Nordica/Marker
3 Svindal, Head/Head/Head
4 Kroell, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
5 Clarey, Head/Head/Head
6 Heel, Head/Head/Head
7 Ganong, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
8 Baumann, Blizzard/Tecnica/Marker
9 Innerhofer, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
10 Theaux, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
Men’s World Cup downhill, Bormio, Italy, Dec. 29, 2012. … It is the 28th of 73 races on the 2012-13 World Cup schedule. … the 14th of 36 men’s races and the fourth of nine scheduled men’s downhills. … It is the 53rd Cup race hosted by Bormio. … the 24th downhill. … and the 14th time a Dec. 29th downhill has been on Bormio’s agenda.
It is the sixth career World Cup win for Hannes Reichelt, but his first in downhill. … He has also won four super G’s (including at Bormio March 13, 2008) and one GS. … His best in downhill was second at Wengen last Jan. 14. … He has been on four previous downhill podiums. … It is his second podium of the season having placed third in the Beaver Creek super G. … It is the first career World Cup victory for Dominik Paris. … He has one other podium, also in DH, at Chamonix Jan. 29, 2011. … His previous best at Bormio was ninth last season. … His previous best this season is fifth in the Beaver Creek downhill.
It is the 47th career World Cup podium for Aksel Lund Svindal. … his 15th in downhill. … His best previous result at Bormio was sixth, scored twice in downhill 2006 and 2011. … It is his sixth podium of the season. … third in DH.
It is a career World Cup best result for Travis Ganong, topping a tenth from Val Gardena Dec. 15. … It is his fourth score of the season and third, progressively better, in downhill. … It is the sixth best career result for Benjamin Thomsen, all coming in downhill and all coming in the 2012 calendar year. … It is his first career result at Bormio. … Jan Hudec matches his third best result of the season. … He was third at Bormio in 2007. … It is the fifth best result for Manuel Osborne-Paradis at Bormio. … and matches his second best finish of the season. … Nursing a fever, Erik Guay scored his 11th best of 11 Cup results at Bormio. … It was the fourth best of five Bormio finishes for Steven Nyman. … his third score of the season.
Svindal maintains the lead of the World Cup overall standings 674-560 over Marcel Hirscher (did not race). … Ted Ligety (did not race) holds third with 537pts. … Guay is top Canadian overall in 16th place with 189pts. … Svindal holds the lead in the downhill standings 285-193 over Paris. … Klaus Kroell (fourth in race) is third with 141pts. … Guay is seventh with 123pts. … Nyman in ninth with 105pts. … Austria leads the men’s Nations Cup 2363-1732 over Italy with France third at 1273. … The US is fifth with 935pts and Canada eighth
FIS World Cup
Dec. 29, 2012
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Total Time||FIS Points|
|3||19||421328||SVINDAL Aksel Lund||1982||NOR||1:58.63||0.12|
|39||46||400281||VAN HEEK Marvin||1991||NED||2:02.29||42.39|
|40||53||491151||DE LA CUESTA Paul||1988||SPA||2:02.32||42.73|
|Did not finish 1st run|