KITZBUEHEL, Austria – It may have been just half a Hahnenkamm downhill, but only full gondolas are awarded to the winners in Kitzbuehel. Years from now, no one will remember the difference. Kjetil Jansrud is the 2015 champ.
The choice was simple: Either move the start to the lower half of the course — all the way down to the Seidelalm Jump — or don’t have the race. Dense fog on the upper part of the Streif made running the top part of the classic downhill impossible — and it never cleared up.
The finish stadium crowd, 50,000 strong, appeared subdued and perhaps a little deflated by the decision. Some may believe running a 58-second Hahnenkamm downhill is sacrilegious, but ultimately the circumstances likely didn’t change much of the outcome. Kjetil Jansrud has been on the tear of a lifetime this season, having won five races and closely contending for the overall with Marcel Hirscher. He was fastest in both training runs earlier in the week; his quickest sections were in the upper part of the course, so a full-length run would possibly only have widened his lead.
It wasn’t much of a lead, 0.02 seconds over runner-up Dominik Paris that ultimately secured the Hahnenkamm downhill victory. In third, France’s Guillermo Fayed may not have been a pre-race favorite for a podium, but with rising numbers this season, perhaps he should have been.
The day and the festivities ahead, however, will be all about Jansrud, who charged for the win over the famed Hausberg jump, through the final turns and into the finish.
“I have to say, the speed going into Hausberg was as high today as in training, if not higher, so the bottom section was really difficult to ski,” said the champ. “That said, the guys in the start always want to do the full Kitzbuehel. There is, of course, a difference winning the shorter Kitzbuehel from the longer one. I’m happy to win this one, but hopefully I have a few more years of fighting from the top.”
Coming into the bottom, the racers’ legs were fresher than they normally would have been. Jansrud, like many others, adjusted by taking a tighter line, particularly over Hausberg.
“I was a little bummed out this morning when they moved the start down because I figured the top would be my section today,” said Jansrud. “I had to work mentally to change that around into something positive. I knew if I can attack this in the right way, I might be able to contend for a win. It was a good feeling to get those couple hundredths on Paris.”
Also in the back of Jansrud’s mind was the close battle for the overall globe in which he’s currently embroiled with Hirscher. The two have been going back and forth most of the season, but in recent weeks — with Jansrud’s less-than-stellar performance in Wengen — the Austrian has been squeaking further ahead of the Viking’s reach.
“I thought (the overall) was gone in Wengen,” Jansrud said. “I knew I needed 100 points today. He’s a few meters ahead of me in the fight for the overall. It’s not as good as I hoped but not as bad as I feared it could be,” Jansrud said.
As for the Americans, Steven Nyman skied to fifth place — a career-best result at the Hahnenkamm — just 24 hours removed from his best super G finish since 2007.
“You come to Kitz and you know they’re going to run the race. You just have to keep your mind in it. They delay and delay, and they’ll adapt it however they need to,” said Nyman. “You have to adjust according to wherever they start. I skied pretty well. Coming off the Hausberg, I was really inside. I had never skied the turn like that. … Hopefully I can take that into next year and run the whole entire thing.”
Nyman said having more energy on the shortened course was part of what allowed him to take the additional risk.
“This is a great result to throw down right before Worlds,” added Nyman. “It’s a confidence booster, but Beaver Creek is Beaver Creek. I love that hill. I’m super excited to get there and see what I can pull off. It’s Worlds — you’ve got to risk everything. It’s all about the medal.”
The U.S. was also represented by Travis Ganong, who didn’t have his best day, finishing 44th. Jared Goldberg finished in World Cup points, 25th, and Wiley Maple was just out in 31st. Bode Miller had been scheduled to run POV but decided to take the day off due to “back problems.” Andrew Weibrecht also tweaked his back in Friday’s super G and chose to sit out the downhill.
The Hahnenkamm races continue Sunday with two runs of slalom.
See more photos from this race here.
By Hank McKee
1 Jansrud, Head/Head/Head
3 Fayed, Head/Head/Head
4 Streitberger, Head/Head/Head
5 Nyman, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
6 Innerhofer, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
7 Heel, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
7 Kueng, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
7 Baumann, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
10 Mayer, Head/Head/Head
Men’s World Cup downhill, Kitzbuehel, Austria, Jan. 24, 2015:
- It is the signature event of the 75th Hahnenkamm. … It is the 23rd race of the men’s 36 race World Cup calendar … the sixth of 10 scheduled downhills and the final DH before the World Championships. … It is the 159th World Cup event hosted at Kitzbuehel … the 57th downhill. … Hannes Reichelt is the defending champion. … Start is pushed back several times due to fog. … A lowered start (and shortened course) is utilized.
- Winning time is well less than any World Cup DH finish time previously recorded at Kitzbuehel (1:09.63 by Daron Rahlves in 2003 had been quickest on record). … It is the eighth career World Cup win for Kjetil Jansrud, his fifth of the season and third of the season in downhill. … Winning margin is .02 of a second. … Top 26 finishers are within the same second. … All finishers within two seconds.
- It is the 10th career World Cup podium result for Dominik Paris … his sixth of the season. … Paris won the Kitzbuehel DH Jan. 26, 2013 and the SG yesterday.
- It is the second career World Cup podium for Guillermo Fayed, the previous also coming this season in DH at Lake Louise Nov. 29.
- It is the eighth top five World Cup career result for Steven Nyman and his best Kitzbuehel finish in any discipline. … It is his third best finish of the season. … Benjamin Thomsen matches his 11th best career World Cup result. … It is his best finish of the season. … Jared Goldberg gets his third career score at Kitzbuehel, the first in DH. … Wiley Maple just missed scoring with a 31st-place finish.
- Marcel Hirscher (did not race) holds the lead of the World Cup overall standings 916-834 over Jansrud. … Alexis Pinturault (did not race) is third with 611pts. … Ted Ligety (did not race) is tenth overall with 420pts.
- Jansrud holds the lead of the downhill standings 439-312 over Paris. … Fayed is third with 270pts. … Steven Nyman is fourth in downhill with 254pts and Travis Ganong eighth with 191pts.
- Austria maintains the lead of the men’s Nations Cup 3328-2326 over France. … Italy is third with 2126pts. … The U.S. is seventh with 293pts and Canada ninth with 427pts.
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