After a morning delay due to a brief but intense snowstorm, the 2018 World Cup men’s downhill season went out with a bang on Wednesday as Swiss World Champion Beat Feuz took home his career-first crystal globe and the Austrian duo of Matthias Mayer and Vincent Kriechmayr tied to the hundredth for the win at World Cup Finals in Are, Sweden.
Feuz held a 60-point lead in the downhill standings over Norwegian rival Aksel Lund Svindal heading into the final race and needed to finish no worse than sixth to guarantee that the crystal globe would be coming home with him. When all was said and done, Feuz did enough with a third-place finish, finally tasting what it’s like to be a World Cup champion.
“To have this globe is a dream come true,” he explained after the race. “I knew I had the 60-point advantage over Svindal but I still tried to focus on my own race. I knew I needed a sixth place to win the globe so when I came down and saw the green light it was a really big relief. I was nervous, of course, for the race and couldn’t say from the training what could happen today. It feels unbelievable for me, I got pretty close in 2012 and now I finally have the globe.”
Svindal was unable to muster any late-season magic and settled for fourth place on the day.
With Kriechmayr sitting comfortably in the lead after his buttery smooth run, Mayer took full advantage of an opening of perfect on-course visibility and was able to match his teammate turn for turn, using a blazing final section to cross the finish line in a dead heat for the victory.
“At the start I saw that Vincent was in the lead and I was happy about that so I tried to give everything to be as fast as he was and, yeah, I was,” Mayer said. “The snow was really well prepared today and saw that I had good light at the start and I think it was a good race.”
“I first saw the green light so for a second I thought, ‘Ahh second place!’ but then I saw we got the same time so I’m really proud to be with him on the first place,” added Kriechmayr. “(Tying for the win has) never happened to me before, we needed this downhill win for the Austrian Ski Team and now we are both on the first place so it’s awesome.”
The lone American to qualify for the Finals downhill was Californian Bryce Bennett. Bennett was definitely feeling the effects of a long season on the World Cup and could only manage a 24th-place finish, 1.77 seconds back of the leaders.
“I’m tired,” admitted Bennett. “It took a lot of mental energy to make it to this point and I still have a lot to learn in my career and I’m not quite there but it’s a good experience to move forward and make a plan and learn from it and do it better, hopefully next year. I set a plan last spring and I knew what I needed to do to be consistently fast on the World Cup and I followed that and I trusted in that plan and it seemed to work out. I just need to refine it some more; no drastic changes but just make it a little bit better and hopefully take the next step.”
The men now close out the World Cup speed season on Thursday, March 15, with the final super-G of the season.
1. Matthias Mayer (AUT) – Head/Head/Head
1. Vincent Kriechmayr (AUT) – Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
3. Beat Feuz (SUI) – Head/Head/Head
4. Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) – Head/Head/Head
5. Thomas Dressen (GER) – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
6. Maxence Muzaton (FRA) – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
7. Max Franz (AUT) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
8. Johan Clarey (FRA) – Head/Head/Head
9. Kjetil Jansrud (NOR) – Head/Head/Head
10. Brice Roger (FRA) – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points||WC Points|
|4||9||421328||SVINDAL Aksel Lund||1982||NOR||1:20.33||+0.12||1.87||50|
|16||16||422139||KILDE Aleksander Aamodt||1992||NOR||1:21.02||+0.81||12.62||0|
|Did not finish 1st run|