In recent memory, very few male athletes have been more dominant at a single venue on the speed side than Dominik Paris has been in Bormio. With his downhill win on Friday, Paris’ win total at the iconic venue in the Dolomites climbs to five, with four of those wins coming in downhill.
Friday’s victory took Paris past Austrian great Michael Walchofer on the all-time Bormio downhill wins list and the 30-year-old now stands alone as the winningest downhiller ever at the venue. With last weekend’s downhill in Val Gardena being moved to Bormio due to weather, Paris has yet another chance to add to his win total on Saturday.
“I don’t know if you can call me a record man but I’m feeling very great on this hill and on this course,” Paris said after the race. “I tried to push today very hard and put me on my limits and, yeah, it paid off very well. I like the hill, I know the lines, and I know what I have to do on this hill.”
In fact, with 13 career downhill wins, Paris is the winningest active downhiller on the men’s Tour, one win shy of tying the now-retired Norwegian legend Aksel Lund Svindal and Walchofer on the all-time list.
Paris looked to be facing some tough opposition from the likes of Austria’s Matthias Mayer in the early running, however. The Austrian laid down a near-flawless run in Friday’s flat light and sat comfortable in the leader’s chair with a lead of over six-tenths of a second before Paris kicked out of the gate with bib 11. It was clear Paris was pushing the limits of what was possible as the big man looked to be riding the thin line between glory and disaster, holding a sizable lead of his own and crossing the finish a full four tenths ahead of Mayer.
“Today was a little bit more icy,” Paris said of the conditions. “They do a great job every year on this hill and it’s always very tough and hard, very icy and bumpy and that’s what I like and why I think it’s the real downhill. You have to push but you also have to be very smart on the hill to not go out of the line. That’s Bormio, that’s what I like, and that’s why maybe why I have a little bit of an advantage here.”
Bormio has a well-earned reputation on the men’s circuit as being one of, if not the most challenging downhill track in the world with racers facing a dark, fast, bumpy, and icy ride year after year. With race crews watering the slope prior to the weeks racing, nerves of steel and athletic skiing are a must if racers hope to walk away with strong results.
“It really favors strong, good skiing,” said American Downhiller Travis Ganong, who led the Americans in eighth place. “There’s not a lot of luck involved here, you have to earn every inch of this hill.”
A big question mark heading into Friday was how Swiss star and current leader of the downhill standings, Beat Feuz, would fare after suffering a broken hand last week in Val Gardena. After losing time on the first split with a slower than normal start, Feuz nearly matched Paris turn for turn throughout the rest of the course and slid into second place just ahead of Mayer. With skiing like that, a bum hand could do little to keep Feuz off yet another downhill podium.
“Second place feels like a victory,” he told Swiss television. “I couldn’t have expected more. Paris must have skied sensationally today, for me this result is more than I could have dreamed of.”
Mayer admitted that when he first crossed the finish line and saw his lead, the thought did cross his mind that a victory in Bormio was within the realm of possibility.
“It was a close race today between me and Beat but Dominik was on his own level but I’m really happy to be on the podium,” he shared. “I felt really good and knew that this could be a podium and a very, very good time. I always thought that especially Beat and Dominik, it always comes down to the hundredth of a second. I wasn’t sure that Dominik could do four tenths in front of me. It was an exciting race.”
Ganong led the Americans in eighth place and conquered some lingering demons from the place where he suffered a season-ending knee injury two years ago and nearly ended his season again last year with a hard crash into the nets. Ganong has also emerged as the most consistent American on the speed side this season, with three top-10 finishes in the first five races of the season.
“It’s really nice to finally have another good result here in Bormio,” Ganong said. “This is where I had my first top 10, but also in the last two years I blew out my knee two years ago and last year it was really bad luck with my ski popping off and I tore my LCL. I hadn’t had a finish here in two years and before that we were in Santa Caterina so it had been a while and it was amazing today to have some good feelings on the snow, have some confidence and just turn my brain off and ski.”
Ryan Cochran-Siegle followed Ganong in a strong 11th place for the second-best downhill result of his career. Cochran-Siegle’s performance was made all the more impressive given the fact that the 27-year-old took a hard fall in Thursday’s training run and was lucky to escape injury himself.
“This is the second best downhill result of my life so I’m definitely thrilled with my solid skiing but I also know that to continue to improve and get better it’s going to take aggressive approaches day in and day out on the World Cup,” he admitted. “I’m trying to be with that more intense mindset going out of the start. I’m happy with my result and look forward to tomorrow as well.”
Veteran Steven Nyman was the only other American in the points, finishing in 24th place. Thomas Biesemeyer finished in 36th, Bryce Bennett 38th, Jared Goldberg 45th, and Wiley Maple 55th. Sam Morse did not finish his run.
Benjamin Thomsen led the Canadians in 28th place.
The men will race a second downhill on Saturday starting at 11:30 CET.
- Dominik Paris (ITA) – 1:49.56 Nordica/Nordica/Marker
- Beat Feuz (SUI) – +0.39 Head/Head/Head
- Matthias Mayer (AUT) – +0.40 Head/Head/Head
- Aleksander Aamodt Kilde (NOR) – +1.03 Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Maxence Muzaton (FRA) – +1.13 Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Matthieu Bailet (FRA) – +1.23 Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
- Brice Roger (FRA) – +1.37 Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Travis Ganong (USA) – +1.48 Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Thomas Dressen (GER) – +1.52 Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Johan Clarey (FRA) – +1.55 Head/Head/Head
For complete results, click here.