Cuche wins Hahnenkamm DH for record fifth time
Didier Cuche, two days after announcing he will retire at the end of the season, will ride out of Kitzbuehel high on the shoulders of teammates after the 72nd running of the Hahnenkamm downhill. The honor is well earned.
With a cunning, brilliant run Cuche, at 37 re-set the mark as the oldest winner of a World Cup downhill and set the record for DH wins at Kitzbuehel with five, one more than the great Franz Klammer who smiled appreciatively in the finish.
"He congratulated me in the finish while I was still watching some of the racers come down," Cuche said. "I think we both were a bit nervous there."
He also left three Austrians to ponder what might have been as Romed Baumann, Klaus Kroell and Joachim Puchner finished second, third and fourth respectively, all within four tenths of a second of the win.
"I had my problems on the Hausberg Bump and Traverse," said Baumann, "and Dider was great there. ... he was four tenths faster than me there."
Kroell said he made some small mistakes in the middle of the course but added, "it was nice to have some powder skiing on the Streif."
There were major questions the race would even be held as a very wet snow pummeled the historic Streif course throughout the race, but work crews continued slipping throughout the night and put the track in amazingly good condition. Working from a lowered start, however, racers had to deal with diminishing light and a smear on the goggles from the falling snow that shrunk the comfort zone formidably.
The highlight efforts of the race were confined to bibs 18 through 21. Bode Miller, addressing the one downhill of the circuit he has not won, had a wild ride as he nearly did a split when his ski caught in the extremely grabby snow. The recovery was beyond belief, but the damage to his time was clearly done. He finished 29th.
Cuche, in bib 19, skied beautifully through the traverse and took a deliberate low line that gave him a few extra feet of downhill at the top of the finish straight, the Zeilschuss, to move from .07 behind to what would prove to be an insurmountable lead of .36. Both Kroell and Baumann in the next two bibs sliced into that lead, but could not overtake the venerable Swiss.
Cuche said the conditions are not something he focuses on. "As an athlete you don't really think too much about that on race day. You just have to focus and not worry about that."
"I remember each (of the record five Kitzbuehel wins) well. The first was really special in '98, being a young guy it was really great."
This time, he said the last sentence in his head as he kicked out of the start was "this is your last race. I put that into my brain and maybe I enjoyed my last run even more."
Canadian Jan Hudec, making his first racing run down the course at age 30, got back on his skis off the final jump and lost dramatic time, but still led the way for the North Americans in tenth, one placing ahead of teammate Erik Guay.
"Visibility was horrendous," said Hudec. "It was snowing so hard the lines were covered. I just had to put my nose in there."
Travis Ganong gave a gallant charge to finish 12th for the US and score his best World Cup result.
"We love powder skiing in Squaw, so I felt right at home." Ganong said. "It was a drag race, but they did a great job of taking the snow off the course." He said he had not made a single turn since his training crash on Wednesday.
There were no DNF's in the race.
Cuche and Ganong photos by Gepa
by Hank McKee
Men's World Cup downhill, Kitzbuehel Austria, Jan. 21, 2012
1 Cuche, Head/Head/Head
2 Baumann, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
3 Kroell, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
4 Puchner, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
5 Clarey, Head/Head/Head
6 Feuz, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
7 Sporn, Elan//Elan
8 Keppler, Head/Head/Head
9 Theaux, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
10 Hudec, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
Men's World Cup downhill, Kitzbuehel, Austria, Jan. 21, 2012. ... It is the first race held of three scheduled at Kitzbuehel for the 72nd Hahnenkamm. ... It is the 19th of 45 scheduled races of the 45 men's races on the 2012 World Cup schedule with one cancellation (city event Munich). ... It is the sixth of 11 scheduled downhills and the fifth held. ... It is the 145th World Cup hosted by Kitzbuehel. ... The 53rd downhill. ... It is the second of three scheduled at Kitzbuehel this season, the first held. ... Race is held on a shortened course in a heavy, wet snowfall.
It is the 19th career World Cup win for Didier Cuche. ... his 11th in DH and his fifth in DH at Kitzbuehel, a record. ... It is his second win of the season after the Lake Louise Nov. 26. ... He ups the standard as oldest man to in a World Cup race to 37 years five months.
It is the seventh career World Cup podium placing for Romed Baumann. ... his second in downhill, the other also a second at Val Gardena last season. ... It is his best result of the season. ... He was fourth in DH at Lake Louise in November.
It is the 15th career World Cup podium placing for Klaus Kroell. ... his 13th in downhill. ... It is his third podium at Kitzbuehel having won the super G in 2009 and placing third in DH in 2009. ... It is his third third place finish of the season all in DH (Beaver Creek and Bormio).
North Americans: It is the 12th career World Cup top 10 for Jan Hudec. ... his seventh in DH. ... It is his first race at Kitzbuehel. ... It is his third top 10 of the season, the other two coming in SG at Lake Louise and Val Gardena. ... 11th matches the 53rd best career Cup result for Erik Guay. ... and matches his fourth best at Kitzbuehel. ... He has finished 11th three times at the site, the other two in SG. ... It is a career best Cup result for Travis Ganong. ... It is the 22nd best DH result for Marco Sullivan. ... his sixth best result (all disciplines) at Kitzbuehel. ... It matches his best result of the season. ... It is the 235 World Cup scoring result for Bode Miller.
Standings: Marcel Hirscher (did not race) maintains the lead of the World Cup overall standings 725-695 over Ivica Kostelic (50th in race) with Beat Feuz (sixth in race) third with 585pts. ... Ted Ligety (32nd in race) is fifth with 493pts and Bode Miller (29th in race) sixth with 450pts. ... Erik Guay (11th in race) is the top Canadian overall in 23rd with 196pts. ... Feuz holds the lead of the downhill standings 300-277 for Cuche. ... Kroell is third with 165 and Miller fourth with 221pts. ... Guay is 11th with 120pts. ... Austria leads the men's Nations Cup 3312-2059 over Switzerland with Italy third at 1735. ... The U.S. is fifth at 1260 and Canada 10th at 633.
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Total Time||FIS Points|
|14||17||421328||SVINDAL Aksel Lund||1982||NOR||1:13.95||12.16|
|Did not start 1st run|