Kitzbuehel: Strobl fastest as training commences on legendary StreifKITZBUEHEL, Austria – Despite standing up before the finish, Fritz Strobl of Austria was the fastest man down the Streif on Tuesday in the first training run for the Kitzbuehel downhill. There will be two more training runs, weather permitting, on Wednesday and Thursday.
“It was not 100 percent, but it was a good run and a fast run,” said Strobl, the reigning Olympic downhill champion and the Hahnenkamm winner in 1997 and 2000.
Fellow Austrian Michael Walchhofer was second, 1.55 behind, while Frenchman Pierre-Emmanuel Dalcin placed third, 1.78 seconds off the pace.
The 66th Hahnenkamm races take place this weekend, with super G Friday, downhill Saturday and slalom Sunday. The downhill and slalom count as a combined.
Strobl, whose form slipped following his Olympic triumph in Salt Lake City, has returned to his best this season, winning his first World Cup race at Lake Louise, Canada, after a dry spell lasting almost three years. He also led the last opening training at Wengen, Switzerland, where he ultimately finished third.
Daron Rahlves finished fourth on Tuesday. This is the course he has always considered his best venue. He won here in 2003, but not from the top, where he excels. Three days ago, Rahlves won the Lauberhorn downhill at Wengen.
The rest of the American team, like many in the run, simply tested the track. Bode Miller finished 30th, Scott Macartney 32nd, Justin Johnson 35th, Marco Sullivan 43rd and Steve Nyman 52nd.
According to the Americans, one of the gates in the carousel turn has been moved slightly downhill and out, giving racers more time to set up for the difficult Steilhang section.
Hermann Maier indicated the track was icy and will only get icier. ‘It’s very fast this year’ said Maier. ‘It’s more smooth at the top section. It’s not so bumpy at the moment. But I guess it’s getting more bumpy in the next days, for sure. Every training run it’s going to get more bumpy.’
”It is as icy and as difficult as possible,” chief steward Peter Obernauer said, adding that that ”the jumps will probably be as far as never before,” owing to huge amounts of snowfall in western Austria in recent weeks.
The Streif course includes the Mausefalle (Mousetrap) near the start with a 60-degree drop and sharp turns. In the Steilhang section, skiers reach speeds of about 100 kph (62 mph) before approaching the Laerchenschuss and Hausbergkante corner near the bottom of the hill, where final speeds can top 125 kph (78 mph).
Weather forecasts call for the possibility of snowfall Wednesday and Thursday.
Last year, the Hahnenkamm was snowed out. Click here for complete coverage.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Men’s World Cup downhill training No. 1 results
1. Fritz Strobl, Austria, 1 minute, 56.35 seconds.
2. Michael Walchhofer, Austria, 1:57.90.
3. Pierre-Emmanuel Dalcin, France, 1:58.13.
4. Daron Rahlves, United States, 1:58.33.
5. Ambrosi Hoffmann, Switzerland, 1:58.49.
6. Hermann Maier, Austria, 1:58.53.
7. Kjetil-Andre Aamodt, Norway, 1:58.54.
8. Didier Cuche, Switzerland, 1:58.60.
9. Klaus Kroell, Austria, 1:58.76.
10. Didier Defago, Switzerland, 1:58.86.