It was a near-perfect day of racing up North in Kvitfjell, Norway, as the men’s speed tour began their final regular-season series on Saturday with the downhill. Originally scheduled with two downhills after Kvitfjell picked up the cancelled race from Garmisch-Partenkirchen earlier in February, high winds on Thursday forced the one and only training run to be held on Friday, unfortunately cancelling the makeup race.
It was crunch time for those lucky few racers with a shot at walking away with the coveted downhill crystal globe at the end of the season with Saturday’s race and World Cup Finals the only two chances left to accumulate points left on the calendar. Heading into race day, Switzerland’s Beat Feuz led Italy’s Dominik Paris by 100 points.
Paris made it clear what he has his sights set on as he and Feuz traded blows throughout their runs with Paris relying on an incredibly strong lower section to pull in front of the Swiss to take the win in 1:45.74 seconds. Feuz finished 0.25 seconds back in second place and was joined on the podium by Austrian star, Matthias Mayer, in third, 0.37 seconds shy of the win. Paris now sits 80 points back of Feuz and will need some luck on his side if he is to win his first crystal globe at World Cup Finals later this month.
“On the course, it was good,” Paris shared after the race. “I was really on the limit and was sometimes out of the line but I tried to bring always the speed and then I knew that I had to do something different like Tommy Moe to bring the speed on the bottom and I was coming down and I was in the lead. I tried yesterday the line, it was ok but today I was pushing really hard to bring more speed on the bottom section.”
“I raced for the win but I have to win, for sure, and Beat did a very good run so it’s just an 80-point difference now,” he added about the race for the crystal globe. “It’s really hard to beat Beat, he is always on the podium, just one race this year not on the podium, so it’s really hard. We will see what happens with the points. I’m feeling good, I’m happy, and I have a lot of confidence in my skiing and that makes it more fun and I don’t have to think about the points.”
Feuz crossed the finish with a lead of over a second and looked to be on his way to locking down his second consecutive downhill title before Paris took to the course and edged him out for the win. With an 80-point lead heading into Finals, Feuz is comfortable with his position but by no means complacent.
“I thought Paris would challenge me down below,” Feuz said. “I saw that he was five hundredths ahead at the second-last intermediate. Then he skied the last turns a little differently, skied higher up and could enter the finish with a lot of speed. I took a different approach, I took more risk and hoped that will work out too but it squeezed me and then, of course, it was clear that with his speed he would take me down. Paris is simply amazing at the moment. I have to try to counter it as much as possible. 80 points ahead is the maximum that I could get out of today.”
Mayer has not won a World Cup this season and Saturday’s third place was only his second podium appearance of the season. The Austrian double Olympic gold medalist actually had Paris beat until the final few sections of the course where he could not match the Italian’s blistering pace on the final turns.
“Especially the first section was a really good run,” he explained. “I had good skis, awesome on the flat part but the last turn before the last flat into the finish was not really my best skiing. Dominik was really good in this section but all-in-all I can be happy with this podium. It is really great to be back on the podium, the season isn’t over, just one more downhill race left and I’ll try my best there, maybe I can get another one.”
It was a solid team performance for the American Downhillers as four racers found themselves in the points, three of them inside of the top 15. Veteran and team captain, Steven Nyman, led the way in seventh place, just under a second off of Paris and was followed closely in ninth by Utah’s Jared Goldberg. Saturday’s result tied Goldberg’s career-best World Cup finish and was a much needed confidence boost after a season of inconsistent results on the World Cup.
“Happy with my day,” said Nyman after the race. “It’s a big improvement from my training run — which was 35th place. I haven’t been on downhill skis much since my crash in Wengen, so to ski with conviction took a lot of focus and grit. My comfort level isn’t that high right now, so I’m proud of my performance all things considered. I’m also proud of Jared for pulling out a good performance; he really needed that! And, of course, Bryce – being in the top 15 once again proves his consistency.”
Bryce Bennett continued his solid season of results in 12th place and Ryan Cochran-Siegle once again landed in the speed points in 24th. Sam Morse finished in 45th and Travis Ganong in 49th after a close call saw him drop way back in the standings. Wiley Maple finished in 51st and Thomas Biesemeyer did not finish.
The men now race super-G in Kvitfjell on Sunday, March 3.
- Dominik Paris (ITA)- Nordica/Nordica/Marker
- Beat Feuz (SUI)- Head/Head/Head
- Matthias Mayer (AUT)- Head/Head/Head
- Mauro Caviezel (SUI)- Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Vincent Kriechmayr (AUT)- Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Otmar Striedinger (AUT)- Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
- Steven Nyman (USA)- Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Kjetil Jansrud (NOR)- Head/Head/Head
- Jared Goldberg (USA)- Head/Head/Head
- Johan Clarey (FRA)- Head/Head/Head
For complete FIS results, please click here.