The downhill in Val Gardena, Italy is truly something special. High speeds, big jumps, and enough terrain to get motion sickness just watching are just some of the reasons why the Saslong is one of the most loved tracks by racers and fans alike on the World Cup.

In stark contrast to Friday’s super-G, Saturday’s downhill race took place under ideal conditions with the previous day’s fog giving way to bluebird skies and cold temperatures overnight.

Norwegian legend, Aksel Lund Svindal, dominated the field en-route to his second downhill win in a row after taking the victory in Beaver Creek earlier this month. It was a relatively close race until Svindal took to the course. The Attacking Viking blew the doors off of the competition, setting split times that were unheard of at that point in the race. Crossing the finish with well over a second lead, it was up to the rest of the field to catch up.

“It was a good run, does it ever get perfect? Probably not,” Svindal said. “Today I felt good. I did not feel good in the beginning of the week. The travels back to Europe were not so good for me so I couldn’t do much in the last 10 days. I didn’t feel so confident in the beginning of this week but I was building confidence every day.”

Fellow Norwegian Kjetil Jansrud was the only skier who could best Svindal’s pace on the upper sections of the course before gradually losing time through the infamous Ciaslat meadow and ultimately crossed the finish 0.59 seconds back, good enough for second place overall. Austria’s Max Franz also claimed his second podium in as many days, finishing in third place, 0.85 seconds off of Svindal’s blistering pace.

Jansrud now has four downhill podiums in Val Gardena without a win, a record for the venue. Even though he would have liked to walk away with the victory on Saturday, Jansrud still took positives away from his performance.

“This is definitely one of my favorite slopes,” said Jansrud. “I think it’s one of the few races on tour that has a very nice flow to it so there’s not so much nervousness in the start so you can enjoy it. It’s a tough downhill, a lot of jumps, but I like jumps and it’s one of the cooler places to ski. Lots of podiums, no win in downhill yet but there’s more years to come.”

It was a day of highs and lows for the American Downhillers with a pair of young talents stealing the spotlight from the more veteran racers as Jared Goldberg and Bryce Bennet turned in impressive runs, finishing 1.18 and 1.24 seconds back in ninth and 11th place, respectively. Goldberg’s previous best World Cup finish was an 11th place in the 2014 Kitzbuehel combined and he was riding high after winning the opening training run on Wednesday.

“I was pushing the line and telling myself, ‘Don’t do that. Don’t be an idiot. Just get back to the regular line,'” Goldberg shared in the finish. “I’ve been training with a lot of these top guys in Copper (Colorado) and have been ahead of them … so I knew that my speed was there, it was just a mater of staying calm and staying loose over the terrain. I think I’ve just gotten more comfortable on this hill.”

Jared Goldberg soared to his personal best World Cup finish. Image Credit: Alexis Boichard/Agence Zoom

Bennett also has a history of strong finishes in Val Gardena, having finished in sixth and eighth place from way back in the pack the previous two years. Bennet hasn’t finished worse than 21st in World Cup downhill this season and said that focussing on the process and not the outcome has been key for him this year.

“I knew that if I could have a fast top section I could be in there,” he said. “My skis were running, I just have to figure out a couple things up there. This track is unique for me because it’s in my wheelhouse but I’m skiing well. I have process goals set in place this season of where I wanted my skiing to be, the strengths in my skiing and the weaknesses in my skiing and where I needed to address those and optimize all of that. I’m happy where it’s at and just have to keep going.”

Team leader Steven Nyman also made his much anticipated return to World Cup racing after choosing to either only participate in training runs or forerun in the first two downhills of the season in Lake Louise and Beaver Creek. Nyman is no stranger to Val Garena as all three of his wins have come at the Italian venue, making the Saslong an ideal place for his comeback. Despite finishing over two seconds back in a tie for 41st with fellow American Wiley Maple, who is also making a return from injury, Nyman had no real expectations for the weekend and was glad to just get back in the starting gate after an 11-month absence. Nyman also announced that he will be taking time off and focusing on the races in Wengen, Switzerland, in January.

“I’m just not confident and flowing and going,” he explained. “I had some fast splits but had some really bad splits, too. It’s ok, there’s some positives and right now I’m focusing on Wengen and just taking a good block off until then to get some training, get that confidence back, get those movements back, and dial equipment in. There’s a ton of different pieces that I have to figure out but it’s always great to race here and great to be back racing and it’s awesome to come through the finish line once again.”

After Goldberg and Bennet, the next American finisher was Travis Ganong in 39th with Maple and Nyman in 41st. Thomas Biesemeyer rounded out the American finishers in 43rd.

The men’s tour now heads to Alta Badia, Italy, for giant slalom and parallel racing Dec. 17-18.

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Top 10

1. Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) – Head/Head/Head
2. Kjetil Jansrud (NOR) – Head/Head/Head
3. Max Franz (AUT) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
4. Gilles Roulin (SUI) – Head/Head/Head
5. Christof Innerhofer (ITA) – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
6. Romed Baumann (AUT) – Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
6. Dominik Paris (ITA) – Nordica/Nordica/Marker
8. Beat Feuz (SUI) – Head/Head/Head
9.  Jared Goldberg (USA) – Head/Head/Head
10. Mauro Caviezel (SUI) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic


Official Results

Rank Bib FIS Code Name Year Nation Total Time Diff. FIS Points WC Points
 1  13  421328 SVINDAL Aksel Lund 1982 NOR  1:57.00  0.00  100.00
 2  17  421483 JANSRUD Kjetil 1985 NOR  1:57.59  +0.59  6.30  80.00
 3  20  53817 FRANZ Max 1989 AUT  1:57.85  +0.85  9.08  60.00
 4  32  512039 ROULIN Gilles 1994 SUI  1:58.00  +1.00  10.68  50.00
 5  26  293006 INNERHOFER Christof 1984 ITA  1:58.14  +1.14  12.18  45.00
 6  30  51215 BAUMANN Romed 1986 AUT  1:58.16  +1.16  12.39  40.00
 6  19  291459 PARIS Dominik 1989 ITA  1:58.16  +1.16  12.39  40.00
 8  15  511383 FEUZ Beat 1987 SUI  1:58.17  +1.17  12.50  32.00
 9  25  934643 GOLDBERG Jared 1991 USA  1:58.18  +1.18  12.61  29.00
 10  27  511513 CAVIEZEL Mauro 1988 SUI  1:58.22  +1.22  13.03  26.00
 11  24  6530104 BENNETT Bryce 1992 USA  1:58.24  +1.24  13.25  24.00
 12  14  200379 SANDER Andreas 1989 GER  1:58.31  +1.31  14.00  22.00
 13  8  202535 DRESSEN Thomas 1993 GER  1:58.34  +1.34  14.32  20.00
 14  21  202059 FERSTL Josef 1988 GER  1:58.41  +1.41  15.06  18.00
 15  2  102899 OSBORNE-PARADIS Manuel 1984 CAN  1:58.50  +1.50  16.03  16.00
 16  43  202525 SCHMID Manuel 1993 GER  1:58.60  +1.60  17.09  15.00
 17  7  53902 MAYER Matthias 1990 AUT  1:58.62  +1.62  17.31  14.00
 18  12  53980 KRIECHMAYR Vincent 1991 AUT  1:58.74  +1.74  18.59  13.00
 18  3  422139 KILDE Aleksander Aamodt 1992 NOR  1:58.74  +1.74  18.59  13.00
 20  46  512031 BARANDUN Gian Luca 1994 SUI  1:58.86  +1.86  19.87  11.00
 21  28  194190 ROGER Brice 1990 FRA  1:58.88  +1.88  20.09  10.00
 21  5  192746 THEAUX Adrien 1984 FRA  1:58.88  +1.88  20.09  10.00
 23  57  292514 HEEL Werner 1982 ITA  1:58.99  +1.99  21.26  8.00
 24  52  54005 STRIEDINGER Otmar 1991 AUT  1:59.03  +2.03  21.69  7.00
 24  23  192932 FAYED Guillermo 1985 FRA  1:59.03  +2.03  21.69  7.00
 24  1  50742 REICHELT Hannes 1980 AUT  1:59.03  +2.03  21.69  7.00
 27  44  194368 RAFFORT Nicolas 1991 FRA  1:59.04  +2.04  21.79  4.00
 28  31  511847 MANI Nils 1992 SUI  1:59.11  +2.11  22.54  3.00
 29  54  202345 SCHWAIGER Dominik 1991 GER  1:59.14  +2.14  22.86  2.00
 30  61  103271 THOMSEN Benjamin 1987 CAN  1:59.15  +2.15  22.97  1.00
 31  56  511981 WEBER Ralph 1993 SUI  1:59.16  +2.16  23.08
 32  11  102263 GUAY Erik 1981 CAN  1:59.23  +2.23  23.82
 33  63  110324 VON APPEN Henrik 1994 CHI  1:59.25  +2.25  24.04
 34  50  6290985 BUZZI Emanuele 1994 ITA  1:59.27  +2.27  24.25
 35  39  422310 SEJERSTED Adrian Smiseth 1994 NOR  1:59.31  +2.31  24.68
 36  22  194167 MUZATON Maxence 1990 FRA  1:59.36  +2.36  25.21
 37  37  53968 BERTHOLD Frederic 1991 AUT  1:59.38  +2.38  25.43
 38  34  53981 KROELL Johannes 1991 AUT  1:59.44  +2.44  26.07
 39  6  530874 GANONG Travis 1988 USA  1:59.45  +2.45  26.18
 40  4  191740 CLAREY Johan 1981 FRA  1:59.53  +2.53  27.03
 41  53  930024 MAPLE Wiley 1990 USA  1:59.56  +2.56  27.35
 41  16  533866 NYMAN Steven 1982 USA  1:59.56  +2.56  27.35
 43  55  531452 BIESEMEYER Thomas 1989 USA  1:59.73  +2.73  29.17
 44  29  54009 WALDER Christian 1991 AUT  1:59.75  +2.75  29.38
 45  42  511529 GISIN Marc 1988 SUI  1:59.78  +2.78  29.70
 46  64  180570 ROMAR Andreas 1989 FIN  1:59.87  +2.87  30.66
 46  18  511139 KUENG Patrick 1984 SUI  1:59.87  +2.87  30.66
 48  38  194298 GIEZENDANNER Blaise 1991 FRA  1:59.89  +2.89  30.88
 49  58  293550 MARSAGLIA Matteo 1985 ITA  1:59.95  +2.95  31.52
 50  49  512042 KRYENBUEHL Urs 1994 SUI  1:59.99  +2.99  31.94
 51  40  53933 SCHWEIGER Patrick 1990 AUT  2:00.10  +3.10  33.12
 52  45  990081 CASSE Mattia 1990 ITA  2:00.19  +3.19  34.08
 52  36  310426 VUKICEVIC Marko 1992 SRB  2:00.19  +3.19  34.08
 54  59  6190176 BAILET Matthieu 1996 FRA  2:00.31  +3.31  35.36
 54  10  561216 KLINE Bostjan 1991 SLO  2:00.31  +3.31  35.36
 56  35  561217 KOSI Klemen 1991 SLO  2:00.33  +3.33  35.58
 57  9  292455 FILL Peter 1982 ITA  2:00.35  +3.35  35.79
 58  60  501987 MONSEN Felix 1994 SWE  2:00.43  +3.43  36.65
 59  33  561255 CATER Martin 1992 SLO  2:00.47  +3.47  37.07
 60  69  194858 ALLEGRE Nils 1994 FRA  2:00.66  +3.66  39.10
 61  66  6291029 BATTILANI Henri 1994 ITA  2:00.68  +3.68  39.32
 62  48  422120 SAUGESTAD Stian 1992 NOR  2:00.87  +3.87  41.35
 63  70  370031 ALESSANDRIA Arnaud 1993 MON  2:00.88  +3.88  41.45
 64  51  380292 ZRNCIC DIM Natko 1986 CRO  2:01.11  +4.11  43.91
 65  62  170131 FAARUP Christoffer 1992 DEN  2:01.18  +4.18  44.66
 66  47  103762 WERRY Tyler 1991 CAN  2:01.58  +4.58  48.93
 67  67  561067 PERKO Rok 1985 SLO  2:01.78  +4.78  51.07
 68  72  54117 HOERL Christopher 1989 MDA  2:01.92  +4.92  52.56
 69  68  430472 KLUSAK Michal 1990 POL  2:02.37  +5.37  57.37
Did not finish 1st run
 71  303758 SUGAI Ryo 1991 JPN
 65  20324 OLIVERAS Marc 1991 AND
 41  104096 THOMPSON Broderick 1994 CAN
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Sean Higgins
Senior Editor
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A Lake Tahoe native and University of Vermont graduate, Higgins was a member of the Catamounts' 2012 NCAA title winning squad and earned first team All-American status in 2013. Prior to coming to Ski Racing Media, he coached U14s for the Squaw Valley Ski Team.
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