With only one training run on the 2017 World Championship downhill track, the stage was set for a battle royale on Wednesday as four athletes had a shot at taking the men’s downhill crystal globe. Peter Fill, Dominik Paris, Kjetil Jansrud, and Adrien Theaux were all in the running for the title.
Taking advantage of missteps by his rivals, Fill of Italy did what was necessary and finished in 10th place, 1.36 seconds off of the winning pace, but enough to secure Italy’s first ever downhill title in the history of the World Cup.
Swiss racer Beat Feuz won the race with a time of 1:40.44 down the twisting track. Finishing only 0.08 seconds back in second place was American Steven Nyman for his fourth consecutive World Cup downhill podium – an American record. Rounding out the podium in third was Canadian Erik Guay, who made his first podium appearance of the season, 0.54 seconds off of Feuz.
It was hard to gauge what a fast run was on Wednesday as visibility was low due to snowfall, fog, and flat light in places, and split times were inconsistent with many racers showing incredible speed in certain sections only to lose tremendous amounts of time in others. Nyman set a blistering pace with bib 17, taking advantage of a momentary break in the clouds on the upper section of the course, but was bumped out of the lead by Feuz, who wore number 18.
For the Swiss racer, who missed the beginning of the season due to an Achilles injury, this victory was made even sweeter as it comes on home snow and bodes well for next season’s World Championships.
“It definitely means a lot to win this race here in St. Moritz today,” said Feuz. “With next year being the World Championships, it gives some confidence and it is a great way to end the season.”
Nyman, who has been knocking on the door of a win since early February, most definitely felt the sting of yet another close-but-no-cigar run, but nevertheless has many positives to take from this season. Before his podium in Jeongseon, South Korea, Nyman had only made it to the podium at two venues – Beaver Creek and Val Gardena (where he has three wins). Nyman’s four podiums this season came in four different venues and indicate an evolution and maturing of skill that could signal more successes to come for the big man from Utah.
“After yesterday’s training run, I was like, ‘Man, I’ve got a lot of fixing to do here today,'” Nyman said in the finish. “I skied really, really well here today. To have four podiums in a row, I’m really fired up and hope to carry that momentum into next season. I just learned a lot this year. I’m really happy, feeling strong, but I’m also ready for the season to end.”
“To set the tone today and perform on this track, that’s a big confidence booster,” he added. “It boosts my confidence to perform here and to perform in Jeongseon, two big major players coming up in the next two years.”
Making it back to a World Cup podium is a huge step for Guay, who has struggled with injury in recent seasons and switched equipment brands. His previous best this season was a fifth place in the Val Gardena downhill in December. The Canadian now looks ahead to next season and perhaps another medal to go with his 2011 downhill gold.
“It’s great,” Guay said. “I’ve struggled through quite a few years just watching on the sidelines. Again this year, a few injuries here and there where I had to step out on a couple of races. In general, I felt like the skiing was coming all year, I just couldn’t build the momentum for long enough. It finally paid off today so I’m happy and excited about it.”
For Fill, crossing the line and seeing a less than stellar time must have been alarming, as the Italian stood stoic in the finish after his run, not knowing how the math would work out. However, once it was confirmed, emotions ran wild as bellows and tears of joy streamed out, making history for Italy in the process.
The 33-year-old Fill had been billed as Italy’s next great hope for an overall title since coming to the World Cup as a teenager, but crashes and inconsistent performances had always kept him from living up to that potential. This season’s downhill title proves that he was worth the hype after all.
“It feels great,” Fill explained. “It was a dream for me and I think it was also a dream for Italy and now we have it! For sure, we will make a big party. I was in the start and I think nothing. I know nothing about the other guys, so I heard only from the coaches that the light was good and the slope is perfect. I put out my poles in the start and looked out and see no light! Nothing! I was a little bit surprised, it was not an easy run for me today, it was hard to fight. When I was in the finish, I never know what’s happening, if I had the globe or not. When I heard I had the globe, it was an amazing feeling for me. It was really great and I’m really happy now.”
“I was every time in the top 10,” Fill added of his extremely consistent season. “Only one time I didn’t finish the race, I lost my ski, so I was not lucky there. But the rest was really lucky and I made a really great season I think.”
Americans Travis Ganong and Andrew Weibrecht were sixth and 21st, respectively, with Weibrecht running into some trouble on the bottom of the course after posting top-10 split times on the upper sections.
With only three races left to go, Marcel Hircher is now mathematically guaranteed his fifth overall title in a row, matching the great Marc Giradelli, although Giradelli’s titles were not consecutive.
Thursday’s super G is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. CET.
Watch a 360º video of the downhill course below.
By Hank McKee
- Feuz, Head/Head/Head
- Nyman, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Guay, Head/Head/Head
- Jansrud, Head/Head/Head
- Clarey, Head/Head/Head
- Ganong, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Giraud-Moine, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
- Janka, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
- Krieschmayr, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Fill, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Men’s World Cup downhill, St. Moritz, Switzerland, March 16, 2016. … It is the 41st race of the men’s 45 race schedule (with one cancellation) and the first race of World Cup Finals. … It is the 11th of 11 downhills.
- It is the sixth career World Cup win for Beat Feuz. … His first of the season. It is his fourth DH win.
- It is the 10th career World Cup podium for Steven Nyman. … His fourth of the season, all in DH and all since Feb. 6.
- It is the 23rd career World Cup podium for Erik Guay. … But his first of the season.
- Travis Ganong matches his seventh best career World Cup score. … It is the fifth best showing of the season for Manuel Osborne-Paradis. … It is the 12th best placing of the season for Andrew Weibrecht.
- Peter Fill (10th in race) wins the downhill title 462-436 over Aksel Lund Svindal (did not race). … Dominik Paris (19th in race) finishes the season in third in the DH standings with 432pts. … Steven Nyman climbs to sixth with 386pts. … Travis Ganong just misses the top 10 in 11th with 250pts. … Erik Guay is 12th with 247pts. (Just the top 15 score in finals by rule).
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points|
|7||3||194542||GIRAUD MOINE Valentin||1992||FRA||1:41.48||+1.04||12.94|
|22||8||422139||KILDE Aleksander Aamodt||1992||NOR||1:43.41||+2.97||36.96|