KITZBUEHEL, Austria – Italian Peter Fill stood in the leader’s box with a time of 1:52.37 seconds as clouds and snow continued to roll in during Saturday’s downhill in Kitzbuehel. Morning cloud cover and wind gusts initially forced race organizers to lower the downhill start to just above the Mausefalle, about 100 meters below the original start house following inspection, as well as push back the start time by one hour. Still, crashes ensued on the formidable track. After Austria’s Vincent Kriechmayr crossed the finish wearing bib 30, FIS officials made the decision to end the race due to worsening visibility, giving the 2016 Hahnenkamm downhill title to Fill, with a pair of Swiss in second and third as Beat Feuz and Carlo Janka finished 0.37 and 0.65 seconds back, respectively
The win is only the 35-year-old Italian’s second World Cup victory after his maiden win all the way back in 2008 at Lake Louise. Nevertheless, a win is a win on the World Cup regardless of the circumstances.
“This year is a great season for me, I was every time fast,” Fill explained after the race. “I was in all the trainings fast on all the slopes. I was fast in Val Gardena this year, that’s not normal for me, and now I win here, it’s perfect. That was my goal; to win or go fast in Wengen or here, and now I win here, that’s a dream come true.”
Several pre-race favorites spectacularly crashed out in the Hausberg section of the course as Austrians Georg Streitberger and Hannes Reichelt as well as Norwegian Aksel Lund Svindal found themselves in the net, with both of the Austrians having to be airlifted off of the hill.
Initial reports indicate that Streitberger suffered a torn ACL and meniscus, effectively ending his season. Reichelt sustained a severe bone bruise to his left leg and is expected to miss the next 2-3 weeks. But the biggest loss of all is overall tour leader Svindal who was also diagnosed with a torn ACL in his right knee and is expected to miss the next 9-12 months rehabilitating the injury. He will undergo immediate surgery in Innsbruck.
“You always have to push your limits in Kitzbuehel,” Fill said. “I crashed here three years ago. Sometimes you finish and sometimes you don’t. It’s part of ski racing and something we all accept with any race we start. I hope the three guys will be back on tour quickly. You never want to see this happen, but unfortunately, some days it does.”
Feuz has seen a return to form this year after several seasons of injury struggles, but his happiness with today’s result was somewhat dampened by the events of the day.
“It’s always really hard to watch your fellow racers crash, and it definitely was a shadow on the day,” said Feuz. “On one hand, I’m happy with my podium result and to be back among the top racers, but it’s not a big celebration feeling right now.”
For Janka, who has also struggled with various ailments in recent seasons, his podium was certainly a welcome one given the circumstances.
“It was really tough conditions here in Kitzbuehel, three big crashes and I hope those guys are not injured too much,” he said. “It’s one legendary Kitzbuehel day again. It’s history, and I’m pretty happy with my run and I hope I can go on like this.”
“The course was in decent shape when I went down,” continued Janka. “But the light was really tricky today and I think that caused a lot of the guys problems.”
The top American finisher on the day was Andrew Weibrecht in 13th place. Weibrecht started with bib 26 and was forced to wait at the start as crews cleaned up following the crashes of Reichelt and Svindal while snow began to gather on course.
“It was tricky, it was definitely snowing when I went and it was kind of on the decline,” he said. “I had some good sections, I skied well, I just wish I could have minimized the mistakes a little bit and been a little faster, but it’s OK.”
Travis Ganong in 18th and Marco Sullivan in 22nd were the only other American finishers. Steve Nyman was on an incredible pace early on, up by over 0.50 seconds heading into the Hausberg, but pinched off the entrance and unfortunately slid out, leaving all to wonder what might have been.
At the team captain’s meeting for Sunday’s slalom, FIS officials clarified their decision to call the race when they did, citing extreme flat light and worry for the safety for the younger, less experienced racers starting outside of the top 30 as the deciding factors.
Kitzbuehel week wraps up with slalom on Sunday with a scheduled start time of 10:30 a.m. CET.
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By Hank McKee
- Fill, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Feuz, Head/Head/Head
- Janka, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
- Clarey, Head/Head/Head
- Gisin, Volkl/Nordica/Marker
- Kilde, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Kriechmayr, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Theaux, Head/Head/Head
- Poisson, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
- Striedinger, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
- Men’s World Cup downhill, Kitzbuehel, Austria, Jan. 23, 2016. … The 76th Hahnenkamm premier race. … It is the third race of the weekend … the 22nd race of the men’s 45 race schedule and the fifth of 11 scheduled men’s downhills. … It is the 57th World Cup downhill at Kitzbuehel. … Kjetil Jansrud is the defending DH champion. … Daron Rahlves is the only American skier to win a World Cup DH at Kitzbuehel. … Ken Read, Steve Podborski (twice) and Todd Brooker won World Cup downhills at Kitzbuehel for four straight seasons.
- Race is halted after 30 skiers “for security reasons” due to course safety. DNF list includes tour leader Aksel Lund Svindal and top Austrians Hannes Reichelt, Georg Streitberger and Klaus Kroell.
- It is the second career World Cup win for Peter Fill, the previous a DH win at Lake Louise Nov. 29, 2008. …
- It is the 18th career World Cup podium for Beat Feuz. … his first of he season. … He was previously second at Kitzbuehel in the 2012 combined.
- It is the 23rd career World Cup podium for Carlo Janka … his first of the season. … It is his first Kitzbuehel podium.
- Erik Guay matches his sixth best Kitzbuehel result and his fourth best finish of the season. … Andrew Weibrecht matched his 18th best career placing in earning his fifth best result at Kitzbuehel, and his best DH result at the site. … It is the 42nd best career finish for Manuel Osborne-Paradis … his third best of the season. … It is his third best of 10 Kitzbuehel World Cup finishes. … It is the third best downhill result at Kitzbuehel for Travis Ganong. … It is the fourth best Kitzbuehel finish for Benjamin Thomsen. … It is the ninth best Kitzbuehel finish for Marco Sullivan.
- Aksel Lund Svindal (DNF in race) leads the World Cup overall standings 916-809 over Marcel Hirscher (did not race). … Henrik Kristoffersen (did not race) is third overall with 671pts.
- Svindal leads the downhill standings 436-291 over Peter Fill. … Guillermo Fayed (21st in race) is third wih 238pts. … Erik Guay moves into tenth with 137pts.
- Austria leads the men’s Nations Cup 3090-2677 over Norway. … France is third with 2541pts. … The U.S. is fifth at 1296 and Canada ninth at 385pts.
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points|
|6||2||422139||KILDE Aleksander Aamodt||1992||NOR||1:53.59||+1.22||13.57|
|Did not start 1st run|
|54||192504||MERMILLOD BLONDIN Thomas||1984||FRA|
|52||110324||VON APPEN Henrik||1994||CHI|
|44||380292||ZRNCIC DIM Natko||1986||CRO|
|37||194542||GIRAUD MOINE Valentin||1992||FRA|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|19||421328||SVINDAL Aksel Lund||1982||NOR|