Dark, bumpy, and intimidating. That’s how the downhill in Bormio, Italy, has often been described by the men of the World Cup. After a four-year absence from the calendar due to a scheduling dispute with the host resort’s lift operation company, the pre-New Year’s downhill that had taken place since the 1993 season was finally put back on the schedule.
It almost didn’t happen again this year due to steady snowfall since Wednesday morning. The second training run was cancelled and race crews were forced to work around the clock to ensure Thursday’s race would happen despite 20 centimeters of snow falling overnight. A dedicated crew of slippers worked through the night and a snow cat pushed snow off the track to make sure Bormio’s return to the World Cup would be a go. After an initial delay for additional course preparations in the morning, racing got underway at 12:30pm local time.
Dominik Paris grabbed his first win of the season and treated Italian fans to a late Christmas present with the home win. The performance matched his win in Bormio from 2012 and edged out the Norwegian juggernaut of Aksel Lund Svindal and Kjetil Jansrud who finished in second and third, 0.04 and 0.17 seconds back, respectively.
“The training run two days ago was pretty OK,” Paris said after the race. “I tried to have the same line and attack but also have some smooth parts and not be too aggressive. I had to fight back to get my confidence up after the start of the season so this result today was a dream come true.”
Svindal is the last winner in Bormio from 2013 and said his previous experience on the Stelvio definitely plays to his advantage, especially when there is only one training run before race day.
“It’s a tough course but it’s crazy how year after year it’s a tight race,” Svindal shared. “Tight racing and a long course, so that’s strange. For me, I know this course, I’ve done it before. If I don’t have to ski a lot of days in a row, I don’t ski that much now; I’m old and not as healthy as I used to be.”
The American Downhillers were once again led by cool Californian Bryce Bennett in 16th place, followed by Jared Goldberg in 18th. Wiley Maple scored the first points of his season in 24th and Thomas Biesemeyer, who finished 3rd in a Europa Cup super-G in Reiteralm, Austria, just before Christmas, finished 34th. Ryan Cochran-Siegle finished 44th, Sam Morse 52nd, Florian Szwebel 55th in his first World Cup start, and Drew Duffy 59th to round out the Americans.
“This whole week has been a little bit tough mentally coming off Christmas not at home,” Bennett said. “We have a good time over in Europe but when we roll into Bormio, the first training run we’re in Christmas mode still and we gotta wake up. For me, today was pretty tough mentally, I couldn’t quite find where I wanted to be. I had a plan; I was a little bit indecisive of my plan on the course, but when you get in the start, it kinda goes away and you just commit so it ended up being OK.”
Unfortunately, it was another tough day for the veterans of the team as Steven Nyman and Andrew Weibrecht both elected not to start in favor of more rest and training heading into a dense January of racing. Squaw Valley’s Travis Ganong took a hard fall into the nets as he was entering the lower portion of the course, but was able to get up and walk off under his own power even with pain in his knee. Ganong is headed home to undergo further evaluation and assess the situation.
Today was the first time in my career that I crashed into B-net. So yeah now I know what that feels like. Not to bad, but in doing so I did tweak my knee and something feels a bit weird… I got up and clicked into my ski but when I tried to move my knee gave out on me. I am headed home to get it evaluated and come up with a plan moving forward. Keep your fingers ?
Not racing at such a demanding venue in four seasons made for some challenging racing for competitors further back in the field as four other racers found themselves on the DNF list with Ganong. A postponed start and numerous delays after each crash made for a long day of racing. France’s Matthieu Bailet was helicoptered off the hill after a harrowing crash on the upper portion of the course and suffered a dislocated and broken shoulder.
The men will race alpine combined in Bormio on Friday.
- Dominik Paris (ITA) – Nordica/Nordica/Marker
- Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) – Head/Head/Head
- Kjetil Jansrud (NOR) – Head/Head/Head
- Beat Feuz (SUI) – Head/Head/Head
- Hannes Reichelt (AUT) – Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
- Matthias Mayer (AUT) – Head/Head/Head
- Adrien Theaux (FRA) – Head/Head/Head
- Max Franz (AUT) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Patrick Kueng (SUI) – Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
- Aleksander Aamodt Kilde (NOR) – Head/Head/Head
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points||WC Points|
|2||7||421328||SVINDAL Aksel Lund||1982||NOR||1:56.99||+0.04||0.43||80|
|10||17||422139||KILDE Aleksander Aamodt||1992||NOR||1:58.07||+1.12||11.97||26|
|20||40||512031||BARANDUN Gian Luca||1994||SUI||1:58.82||+1.87||19.99||11|
|57||44||380292||ZRNCIC DIM Natko||1986||CRO||2:01.84||+4.89||52.27||0|
|65||69||460071||ACHIRILOAIE Ioan Valeriu||1990||ROU||2:06.89||+9.94||106.24||0|
|Did not finish 1st run|