Make no mistake, the Norwegian alpine world revolves around Aksel Lund Svindal, but February has been owned by Kjetil Jansrud and he doesn’t appear to be ready to relinquish anything just yet.
With two Olympic medals from Sochi (and one from 2010 in Whistler) at home, and with the World Cup downhill and overall titles for Svindal in contention, Jansrud rocked a shortened version of the national home course to tie Austrian Georg Streitberger for the win Friday (Feb. 28) at Kvitfjell, his second career World Cup win, both from the Kvitfjell Olympiabakken track.
Travis Ganong, also stealing some spotlight in February from other highly regarded teammates, got his first World Cup podium in third, 0.12 behind the dual winners. Canadian Erik Guay, familiar with success on the track, was fourth, 0.23 behind the winners. Svindal placed fifth, strengthening his position in the World Cup overall standings – where he trails Marcel Hirscher by 13 points – and cementing his second straight downhill title.
“I’m obviously happy we raced today. It’s was foggy with pretty soft snow, but the conditions were really challenging – it was a World Cup caliber race – the terrain was bumpy and the snow was variable. You had to push and ski well to win,” noted Ganong.
The race was held after a shortened training run was squeezed into the schedule at 9:30 a.m. Weather forced the cancellation of the only planned training run the previous day, and it didn’t look good for this morning’s training run either, with blowing snow and fog raising doubts. But the moisture lifted and the snow let up long enough to get the training run off as well as the race, the first of three speed events on the Kvitfjell schedule thanks to a pick-up of a downhill scratched from St. Moritz. A super G is on the schedule for Sunday.
Still, with the race starting below what is normally a major jump on course, there was no room for error. The course was nearly 40 seconds shorter than last season, with the two winners clocking in at 1:05.72. The top 28 finishers were all within a second of that time, and there were four ties in the top 12.
“I have to say, it was a shortened downhill and the conditions were difficult, but I am glad I was able to make 100 points. I pulled number one. I tried to do good and it has paid me,” said Streitberger, the first man down a course that saw very little maintenance since start intervals were tightened as organizers looked warily to the sky. Jansrud said despite the lack of track prep, “from the middle off it was good. For my race number (bib 15) I’m very satisfied and of course happy about my first downhill victory.”
“This is a really big step in my career. I’ve been slowly building up the last four years on the World Cup tour and this last month or so I’ve really been finding some speed. Now I’m at a point where I’m really relaxed and having fun. The good skiing comes out when you’re relaxed and letting the skis roll,” said Ganong. “When I went it was raining and I had to do a goggle wipe halfway down the hill. But on days like today it’s tough you’ve just got to forget about the weather and just ski. You can’t really see anything, so you just have to put your head down and ski.”
Svindal was feeling the pressure of the run for the overall crown. “It was not bad, but not good enough. … I had a small error. If the race is only a minute long then you have to have error-free skiing. The plan was to take the lead today. To be honest it does not run as good as in December and January. I have to fight.”
See more photos from this race in our gallery here.
Men’s World Cup downhill, Kvitfjell, Norway, Feb. 28, 2014
Equipment – Skier, skis/boots/bindings
1 Jansrud, Head/Head/Head
1 Streitberger, Head/Head/Head
3 Ganong, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
4 Guay, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
5 Svindal, Head/Head/Head
6 Fayed, Head/Head/Head
9 Varettoni, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
10 Defago, Rossignol/Lange/Rossignol
Men’s World Cup downhill, Kvitfjell, Norway, Feb. 28, 2014. … It is the 26th race of the men’s 35 race World Cup schedule with nine races remaining. … It is the seventh of nine scheduled downhills. … It is the 51st World Cup race hosted by Kvitfjell, the 25th downhill and the first of three races slated for this season with another downhill and a super G left to contend.
It is the second career World Cup win for Kjetil Jansrud… his first in downhill. … It is his second win at Kvitfjell having won the super G last season. … It is his second win of the season after having earned the gold medal in super G at the Olympics Feb. 16.
It is the third career World Cup win for Georg Streitberger and his first in downhill. … It is his second win at Kvitfjell having won the 2008 super G. His other win is also in super G, scored at Beaver Creek in December 2010. … It is his second podium of the season after a third in SG at Lake Louise Dec. 1.
It is the first career World Cup podium for Travis Ganong, his previous best World Cup finish a sixth in super G at Kitzbuehel Jan. 26. … He was also fifth in the Olympic downhill. … His last seven starts include five top-10 finishes and four finishes of seventh or better.
It is the 28th top four World Cup result for Erik Guay and his fourth at Kvitfjell. … It is his third top four finish of the season, all in downhill, but the other two coming in December. … It is the fifth best downhill result at Kvitfjell for Bode Miller who won in 2008. … It is the second best career finish at Kvitfjell for Steven Nyman. … It is the fourth best finish (third in DH) at Kvitfjell for Marco Sullivan. … It is the seventh best DH result at Kvitfjell lfor Manuel Osborne-Paradis who won the DH in 2009. … It is the seventh career World Cup scoring result for Jeffrey Frisch and his third at Kvitfjell… he is within a second of the lead.
With nine races remaining, Marcel Hirscher (did not race) leads the World Cup overalll standings 955-942 over Aksel Lund Svindal (fifth in race). … Alexis Pinturault (did not race) is third overall with 774pts. … Ted Ligety is fourth with 629pts. … Bode Miller is seventh with 464pts. … Erik Guay leads Canada in 19th with 311pts.
With two races remaining, Svindal leads the downhill standings 485-360 over Hannes Reichelt who has undergone surgery and will not race again this season. … Jansrud and Patrik Kueng (12th in race) are tied for third with 261pts and cannot catch Svindal for the title. Erik Guay is fifth in the downhill standings with 257pts and Bode Miller seventh with 200pts.
Austria leads the men’s Nations Cup 4243-2927 over France. … Norway is third with 2356pts. … The U.S. is fifth at 188pts and Canada ninth with 807pts.
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points|
|5||17||421328||SVINDAL Aksel Lund||1982||NOR||1:06.09||+0.37||7.71|
|26||51||194542||GIRAUD MOINE Valentin||1992||FRA||1:06.68||+0.96||20.01|
|30||64||422139||KILDE Aleksander Aamodt||1992||NOR||1:06.78||+1.06||22.10|
|56||62||491151||DE LA CUESTA Paul||1988||SPA||1:07.76||+2.04||42.53|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|68||192504||MERMILLOD BLONDIN Thomas||1984||FRA|