Love it or hate it, alpine combined sure makes for some interesting race days. Given the variations in hills and conditions from venue to venue, not to mention race runs in disciplines on either end of the spectrum, sometimes it feels like you’d have a better chance at winning Russian roulette.
For the last two years, Wengen hasn’t been much different. Last year’s race was one of the weirdest World Cups in recent memory with all three podium finishers starting with bibs higher than 30. Friday’s race, although not quite as shocking as last year, still produced more than a few eyebrow-raising results.
French tech specialist Victor Muffat-Jeandet took his maiden World Cup win by sneaking in the top-30 after the downhill portion. Taking full advantage of a fog-plagued and deteriorating slalom run, the Frenchman jumped from 27th to the winners box by a perplexing 0.96 seconds over the other surprise of the day. Russia’s Pavel Trikhichev was second and Italy’s Peter Fill finished third, also securing the combined crystal globe as Friday’s race was the final combined of the World Cup season.
“Super combined is always a crazy day because you have to push really hard in the downhill because for me I’m more of a slalom guy,” Muffat-Jeandet said after the race. “You have to get top 30 and after, you have to go back into slalom mode. It’s such a long day and a really tough day. I got my first podium here three years ago and my first victory here in this magical place so full smile and so happy.”
For Trikhichev, the Russian, his first World Cup podium was an unexpected one. Also taking advantage of an early slalom start, Trikhichev skied conservatively to finish as the only racer within one second of Muffat-Jeandet.
“I was really surprised, like, I was shocked, really shocked,” he admitted in the finish. “With the conditions, I don’t try and go really full. I try and ski like I can like on training runs. It didn’t feel good but finally it was a good run.”
Fill, who has won the World Cup downhill title the past two seasons, picked up another crystal globe for icing on the cake for the Italian veteran.
“I don’t believe that I have the globe,” Fill admitted. “It was only two races, so you have to be there with both and bring your best performance. I did not think that this would happen, I am overjoyed. I have three globes now, I do not have to tell my kids later that I won one with only two races. ”
The Americans delivered some solid results as well, particularly in the downhill portion. Bryce Bennet lead the way for the Stars and Stripes in a solid ninth place, although the tall Californian is eager to take the next step and take his skiing to another level.
“The top-10 thing is getting kinda old,” Bennet shared. “After Bormio, I was pretty upset with how that slalom run went and I knew I had some better slalom skiing. I needed to approach it a little bit differently in the slalom portion. I thought I did a better job, I had a little trouble up top but for the most part I kept it rolling pretty good.”
Following Bennett was Ted Ligety, who blazed the slalom portion after just missing the top 30 in the downhill run to finish an impressive 11th. With the form Ligety showed in slalom, we can only wonder what might have been if he had been able to attack a fresh course. Ryan Cochran-Siegle and Jared Goldberg finished back-to-back in 18th and 19th, respectively, to round out the American scorers. Drew Duffy also finished in 40th place and Kipling Weisel did not finish his slalom run in his World Cup debut.
The men are now set to take on the 88th running of the Lauberhorn downhill on Saturday, with the start time set for 12:30pm CET.
- Victor Muffat-Jeandet (FRA) – Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
- Pavel Trikhichev (RUS) – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Peter Fill (ITA) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Kjetil Jansrud (NOR) – Head/Head/Head
- Dominik Paris (ITA) – Nordica/Nordica/Marker
- Mauro Caviezel (SUI) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Justin Murisier (SUI) – Voelkl/Dalbello/Marker
- Matthias Mayer (AUT) – Head/Head/Head
- Bryce Bennett (USA) – Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Aleksander Aamodt Kilde (NOR) – Head/Head/Head
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points||WC Points|
|10||7||422139||KILDE Aleksander Aamodt||1992||NOR||1:44.66||52.13||2:36.79||+1.50||11.11||26|
|13||13||192504||MERMILLOD BLONDIN Thomas||1984||FRA||1:46.20||51.39||2:37.59||+2.30||17.03||20|
|32||60||422310||SEJERSTED Adrian Smiseth||1994||NOR||1:46.60||54.28||2:40.88||+5.59||41.40||0|
|33||26||380292||ZRNCIC DIM Natko||1986||CRO||1:48.15||52.78||2:40.93||+5.64||41.77||0|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|23||512031||BARANDUN Gian Luca||1994||SUI||1:45.47||0|
|Did not start 2nd run|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|Did not start 1st run|