The Lauberhorn downhill track at Wengen is an amazing piece of real estate that calls for a unique set of racing skills. The Italian star of the 2011 World Championships, Christof Innerhofer, displayed all of those skills and a bit of good planning as well, to claim the 83rd running of Switzerland’s single most prestigious race.
He was clocked at over 99mph on the fastest part of the track, but it was his line off the Hundschopf, that frequently photographed narrow jump between rock spires, and his line through the tricky Minschkante and speed out of the Kernen S turns that made the difference. He took a big lead wearing start number 15 and watched his challengers – chiefly Austrians and Canadian Erik Guay – try to run him down.
Frenchman Johan Clarey was timed faster, breaking the 100mph barrier, but could not match others for the full length of the mile and a half course, finishing fifth. Klaus Kroell, with a brilliant run of his own, posted second, by three tenths of a second and his Austrian teammate Hannes Reichelt was third, .76 of a second back. Guay finished fourth.
Downhill standings leader Aksel Lund Svindal saw his once formidable lead dip dramatically (to 52pts) when he lost his footing landing off the Hundschopf and slid off course into the nets. He was not the only one coming to grief, at one point there were two DNF’s on the course simultaneously. There were nine who failed to finish the race by the time it concluded. Three more DQ’d.
Held under a bright sun and in conditions a touch warmer than had been the norm through the training week, the race was well attended as usual with an estimated 40,000 on hand, most of them Swiss. They had slim opportunities to cheer their own, as Patrick Kueng was the top local finisher in 15th place.
The placing for Guay was easily his best at Wengen, challenged only by an eighth place finish last season. He was backed by teammate Benjamin Thomsen in 12th. Marco Sullivan led the Americans in 13th. Travis Ganong finished 21st. Jared Goldberg, in his first attempt on a track that calls for experience, finished just out of the points.
“It was a crazy ride,” said Innerhofer, a triple medalist at the last World Championships. “I was so aggressive at the start. This is one of my biggest dreams. … I particularly like the classics. The people (winners) remain in the memory.”
“I think I made no mistakes,” Innerhofer continued, “but Kroell sure wasn’t joking either and gave it a good shot.”
“I was watching Inner’s run from the start,” said Kroell, “and I could tell right away that it would be tough to catch him. It was one of the toughest Wengen Downhills I have raced – bumpy, icy and the conditions were hard through the whole course – I was, however, able to push all the way through the finish and am really happy about that.”
Innerhofer joined Kristian Ghedina ’97, Herbert Plank (76) and Zeno Colo ’48 as the only Italians to win the Wengen downhill.
Gepa photos of Innerhofer&Svindal
by Hank McKee
Men’s World Cup Downhill, Wengen, Switzerland, Jan. 19, 2013
1 Innerhofer, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
2 Kroell, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
3 Reichelt, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
4 Guay, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
5 Clarey, Head/Head/Head
6 Baumann, Blizzard/Tecnica/Marker
7 Sporn, Elan/Lange/Elan
8 Theaux, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
9 Poisson, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
10 Puchner, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
Men’s World Cup Downhill, Wengen, Switzerland, Jan. 19, 2013. … It is the premier race of the 83rd annual Lauberhorn. … It is the 42nd race of the 2012-13 World Cup schedule. … The 41st to be held. … It is the 20th of the men’s 36 race schedule and the fifth of nine scheduled downhills. … It is the second of three Cup races at Wengen this season with a slalom scheduled Jan. 20.
It is the fifth career world Cup win for Christof Innerhofer. … his third in downhill. … It is his second win of the season, both in DH, the previous at Beaver Creek Nov. 30. … He is the fourth Italian to win the Wengen downhill, the third in the World Cup era with Kristian Ghedina and Herbert Plank.
It is the 20th career World Cup podium for Klaus Kroell. … his 17th in downhill. … and his second in DH at Wengen having won in 2011. … It is his second podium of the season, having also placed third at Lake Louise, Nov. 24.
It is the 22nd career Cup podium for Hannes Reichelt. … his sixth in DH. … It is his second best Wengen finish having placed second in last year’s downhill. … It is his third podium of the season after a co-win in DH at Bormio and a third in super G at Beaver Creek.
It is the fifth time Erik Guay has placed fourth in a World Cup race. … The 24th time he has placed fourth or better. … It is his career best finish at Wengen, the previous best an eighth in DH last season. … It is his second best finish of the season having placed third in the Val Gardena DH. … It is the sixth best career showing for Benjamin Thomsen and his best at Wengen. … It is his best result of the season. … Marco Sullivan matches his 19th best career score. … It is his third best finish at Wengen. … his second best result of the season. … It is the second best career result at Wengen for Jan Hudec. … his third best result of the season. … It is a career best result at Wengen for Travis Ganong. … his fifth score of the season.
Marcel Hirscher (did not race) leads the World Cup Overall standings 855-747 over Aksel Lund Svindal (DNF in race). … Ted Ligety (did not race) is third with 676pts. … Guay is top Canadian overall in 18th place with 239pts. … Svindal maintains the lead of the downhill standings 285-233 over Innerhofer. … Kroell is third with 221pts. … Guay is seventh with 173pts. Sullivan is ninth with 106 and Steven Nyman (DNF in race) tenth with 105pts. … Austria leads the men’s Nations Cup 3333-2352 for Italy. … France is third with 1941. … The US is fifth with 1157 and Canada ninth with 521pts.
FIS World Cup
Jan 19, 2013
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Total Time||FIS Points|
|37||51||400281||VAN HEEK Marvin||1991||NED||2:35.39||50.93|
|Disqualified 1st run|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|19||421328||SVINDAL Aksel Lund||1982||NOR|