Choosing to run bib number one in the speed events is a gamble. You only have the forerunners ahead of you to gauge how the track is running that day and all of your competitors can watch as you lay it all on the table. Fortunately, for Switzerland’s Beat Feuz, that gamble paid off.
Feuz was victorious in the 88th running of the Lauberhorn downhill in Wengen, Switzerland, on Saturday by choosing to run first and hoping that his prediction of a progressively slower top section would prove to be true. It was and the Swiss skier earned his second career Lauberhorn title.
“The idea that I chose number one was that the top section has slowed down in recent years,” Feuz shared in the finish. “I was able to win here in 2012, and was last year’s home World Champion, that’s right at the top of the list. Is there anything more beautiful? You can see it all around you, full of people pushing you. I’m feeling good about a home race. What do you want in ski sports more than a day like this? Blue sky, no clouds in the sky. If you have no pleasure as a skier, then you have to rethink.”
Finishing a slim 0.18 seconds behind the home hero was Norwegian legend Aksel Lund Svindal, who had the lead at the final interval before letting the win slip through his fingers in the final turns before the finish.
“Close race between me and Feuz,” he said. “He was strong today, so of course, I’m very happy with my second place. It doesn’t get better than this. All the spectators, course is in perfect condition, this place is awesome when it’s like this. I think I hesitated a little bit (in the final turns) and he just got on the ski over that second to last roll and I think he did it a little better. I watched it on the TV before I went and it looked perfect the way he did it.”
Svindal also cut off the line enough in the infamous Kernen-S to graze the safety netting with his head and shoulder.
“I hit the fencing going out,” Svindal said. “Got a hit on my shoulder and my head and there’s still some pieces of the netting left on my helmet but that’s kind of what happens. It’s racing and that’s a difficult turn, so you’re cutting it close sometimes.”
Third place went to Austria’s Matthias Mayer who relied on a strong middle section to stay in touch with the leaders and land on his third World Cup podium of the year. The Austrian will no doubt take advantage of this confidence boost as he gears up to defend his 2014 Olympic downhill title next month.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “It is the longest downhill of the season, two minute thirty is an amazing run, icy from the top to the bottom. All the training in the summer, the physical training, is now good. The middle section was very good for me, I got a lot of speed there and made up some time on Beat. I’m happy.”
It was a day of ups and downs for the American Downhillers as Bryce Bennet once again led the Americans in 17th place. Although disappointed with some slower splits on the upper sections of the course, Bennett skied strong to the finish and has been showing the consistency required to perform year in and year out on the most demanding tracks in the world.
“I was pretty nervous coming into this week, I have never skied fast here at all,” he admitted. “The first training run didn’t go so well and then the second training run went alright. I knew I needed to clean up a couple things and I felt pretty confident this morning and had a good plan. I thought I skied a lot of the sections well, the S-turn I skied really well … I’ll chalk it up as a learning experience.”
American veteran and team leader Steven Nyman continued his comeback from injury after skipping the last World Cup downhill in Bormio in favor of rest and training time. After some shaky training runs, Nyman was encouraged with his race-day 28th place and is looking forward to the rest of the season.
“I definitely was looking for more,” Nyman shared. “I felt pretty good going down. I was cautious in the Kernen-S zone and I think I over-skied the super-G turns, but I was clean and much better than my training runs so it’s definitely a confidence builder for me. After Gardena I was skiing in my knee brace, I wasn’t gliding well, everything wasn’t very good. I had three weeks after that of just good consistent training, building my skills without the knee brace, and building confidence in myself and I’m feeling pretty good.”
Jared Goldberg was on pace for a top-10 finish before hitting an unexpected bump and crashing out as he entered the final section of the course. The Utah native was OK, but understandably upset at what might have been. Kipling Weisel and Drew Duffy were the only other American finishers in 52nd and 53rd, respectively. Wiley Maple also joined Goldberg in the DNF column.
The men will now race slalom in Wengen on Sunday.
- Beat Feuz (SUI) – Head/Head/Head
- Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) – Head/Head/Head
- Matthias Mayer (AUT) – Head/Head/Head
- Hannes Reichelt (AUT) – Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
- Thomas Dressen (GER) – Rossignol/Lange/Look
- Vincent Kriechmayr (AUT) – Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Maxence Muzaton (FRA) – Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
- Dominik Paris (ITA) – Nordica/Nordica/Marker
- Kjetil Jansrud (NOR) – Head/Head/Head
- Peter Fill (ITA) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points||WC Points|
|2||3||421328||SVINDAL Aksel Lund||1982||NOR||2:26.68||+0.18||1.54||80|
|15||42||512031||BARANDUN Gian Luca||1994||SUI||2:28.66||+2.16||18.43||16|
|17||17||422139||KILDE Aleksander Aamodt||1992||NOR||2:28.74||+2.24||19.11||14|
|26||37||422310||SEJERSTED Adrian Smiseth||1994||NOR||2:28.98||+2.48||21.16||5|
|49||47||380292||ZRNCIC DIM Natko||1986||CRO||2:32.05||+5.55||47.35||0|
|Did not finish 1st run|