Svindal wins Schladming DH, Kroell holds on to title
Aksel Lund Svindal won the first super G of the season, at Lake Louise, Canada in November, and added his second win in the opening race of World Cup Finals at Schladming, Austria today (March 14) claiming the downhill on a tricky course set to host the World Championship events next season. Svindal jumped to third in the race for the overall World Cup title, but gained only 20 pts on overall leader Beat Feuz, who finished second on the day.
Second place points were not enough for Feuz to overtake Klaus Kroell for the downhill globe. In a popular outcome in Kroell's home area, his seventh place finish was just enough to bring home Austria's first downhill title since 2009, edging Feuz 605-598.
"This is, by far, my greatest achievement," said Kroell, the crystal globe indicative of the downhill title secured in his hands. "The whole thing in my home. This is a dream."
Under bright sunny skies, Kroell was surrounded by well wishers, including his girlfriend Silvia and son Tim. Kroell said the crown was "a nice gift," for his son's sixth birthday.
When Feuz finished in second, he celebrated enthusiastically and without benefit of a calculator Kroell thought that, perhaps, the title had gone to the Swiss.
"It was madness," he said. "I thought at first it is over for me. In the end it was close, but it worked out well. ... I was more nervous watching (the final racers) than skiing my run."
Didier Cuche, the retiring Swiss downhill master, missed out on his chance with a day he'd just as soon forget, sliding to his side part way down the track. With both hands in the snow he managed to push himself upright and continue without missing a gate, but finished two and a half seconds out for 17th place and no points. Adding insult, he missed catching his ski in the finish area to conclude his traditional ski flip.
It was the first chance to test the world championship course at Planai for most skiers. The verdict would appear to be that experience would have been a bonus. Big rollers leading into big turns made finding the fastest line down the course tricky at best and well out of reach of several skiers. There were three DNF's and a DQ among the 24 starters, among the higher attrition rates of the downhill season. Many others struggled to find speed on the track.
Svindal, though, was particularly fast at the bottom of the course, a section he had not skied in the one training run held.
“I crashed yesterday so it was cool to have another go today,” he said. The win, he said, “Kind of makes me wish (the tour) was longer now. It's fun to race when you win races.”
Hannes Reichelt was third on the day for his fourth downhill podium of the season. The result made his third for the year in the downhill standings, sliding past the absent Bode Miller.
The Americans did not have a single man in the competition. The Canadians had Jan Hudec in eighth, despite skiing the course virtually blind, Ben Thomsen 10th and Erik Guay 13th.
"I felt awesome today, so ready to rock," said Hudec. "I literally got something in my eye and I couldn't see anything. It's kind of a stupid excuse and at the end of the day no one cares, but it's frustrating. It was an eyelash or something. I couldn't see the rest of the course."
Thomsen was officially welcomed into the ranks of the Canadian Cowboys, a designation reserved for those with podium results, with an engraved belt buckle after the bib draw presented by coach Paul Kristofec.
by Hank McKee
Men's World Cup Downhill, Schladming, Austria, March 14, 2012
1 Svindal, Head/Head/Head
2 Feuz, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
3 Reichelt, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
4 Defago, Rossignol/Lange/Rossignol
5 Raich, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
6 Bertrand, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
7 Kroell, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
8 Hudec, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
9 Theaux, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
10 Thomsen, Head/Head/Head
Men's World Cup Downhill, Schladming, Austria, March 14, 2012. ... First race of eight individual races of World Cup Finals. ... It is the 41st of 45 races on the schedule with one cancellation. ... the 11th of 11 downhills. ... first non-slalom at Schladming since 1990.
It is the 16th career World Cup win for Aksel Lund Svindal. ... his fourth in downhill and first since winning at Are in the 2009 World Cup Finals. ... It is his second win of the season, the first in SG at Lake Louise Nov. 27.
It is the 15th career World Cup podium placing for Beat Feuz. ... his seventh in DH. ... It is his 13th podium of the season and fifth of the season in DH.
It is the 18th career World Cup podium placing for Hannes Reichelt. ... his fourth in downhill. ... It is his sixth podium of the season and fourth in DH.
North Americans: It is the 17th career World Cup top 10 for Jan Hudec. ... his eighth of the season. ... It is the fourth career World Cup top 10 for Ben Thomsen... all coming in DH and all since Feb. 4. ... It is the 77th best finish of 121 scoring results for Erik Guay.
Standings: Feuz maintains the lead of the World Cup overall standings with three races remaining, 1330-1195 over Marcel Hirscher (did not race). ... Svindal moves into third with 1131pts. ... Ivica Kostelic is fourth at 1064pts. ... Only those four can win the overall. ... Ted Ligety (did not race) is eighth with 803pts and Erik Guay leads Canada in 16th with 537pts. ... Klaus Kroell (7th in race) wins the downhill title 605-598 over Feuz. ... Cuche finishes third with 521. ... Bode Miller (did not race) is fifth with 383pts. ... Guay finishes seventh with 363pts and Jan Hudec ninth with 284pts. ... Austria leads the men's Nations Cup standings 6993-4241pts. ... Italy is third with 3563. ... The US is ranked sixth with 2069pts and Canada seventh with 1679.
FIS World Cup
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Total Time||FIS Points|
|1||8||421328||SVINDAL Aksel Lund||1982||NOR||1:46.81||0.00|
|Disqualified 1st run|
|Did not finish 1st run|