ST. MORITZ, Switzerland — After Saturday’s World Championship men’s downhill was postponed until after the women’s race on Sunday, a little help from the weather gods was needed in order to get two full races off back-to-back. Ultimately, organizers decided to lower the start and cut out the iconic “Free Fall” section of the course and use the start for the alpine combined after a high cloud enveloped the top in fog, with racing getting underway at 1:30pm CET. To the delight of the Swiss crowd, Beat Feuz captured the championship title with a time of 1:38.91 seconds, besting Canada’s Erik Guay by 0.12 seconds and Austrian Max Franz by 0.37 seconds.
With varying levels of fog rolling in and out of the top section of the course for the first several racers, there were many lead changes until Feuz kicked out of the gate with bib 13 and delivered his trademark smooth, solid, and powerful skiing in order to capture the win. Guay, with bib 17, challenged Feuz’s lead on the top and middle before sliding well back at the last interval. Miraculously, the Canadian clawed back most of his deficit and slid into second place, only 0.12 seconds shy of another gold medal for the Quebec native. Franz also challenged Feuz on the top sections before settling for third and his first World Championship medal.
Feuz bettered his bronze medal performance from the downhill in Vail-Beaver Creek in 2015 and managed to claim his first World Championship title. A feat made even sweeter given that it came on home snow in St. Moritz. He admitted that he felt a lot of pressure after winning both the downhill and super-G at last season’s World Cup finals in St. Moritz and was very happy to deliver for the Swiss fans.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said after the race. “In Switzerland, the World Championships, and I can win here in Switzerland.”
Guay now has a silver to go with his super-G gold from earlier in the week, bringing his Worlds medal count to three — two of them gold.
“It’s absolutely wonderful, you know?” a gracious Guay explained. “Again, everything that’s happened in these last 10 days, going from Garmisch to winning the super-G to coming to the downhill, canceling the downhill, today with some fog in and out. You know, it was a quite stressful week for me, but I’m happy with the way things worked out and you know, I have to thank everyone behind the scenes. Manny (Osborne-Paradis) gave me a call up, let me know how the jumps were running, how the track was feeling. My coaches, my staff, everybody for getting me here. It’s incredible.”
Franz has shown some serious speed in downhill this season after taking the win in Val Gardena in December. The Austrian was gunning for the win today after a lackluster performance in the super-G, but was very pleased to walk away with a medal.
“I’m very happy,” Franz said. “The super-G didn’t go as I imagined, but after today’s race, of course, I’m happy, but there were a few turns that I knew I could have done better.”
It was another less than ideal day for the American contingent as Jared Goldberg led the way for the American Downhillers in 20th. Defending 2015 downhill silver medalist Travis Ganong ended the day in 25th, followed by Bryce Bennett in 26th and Thomas Biesemeyer in 29th.
“I was 20th two years ago in my last downhill World Champs,” said Goldberg. “It was good. I mean, it’s been a really fun week running this track, and I got a couple days in the full sun, and that was awesome. It was a lot of fun. I mean that’s all I can say. I obviously was hoping for more, but wasn’t expecting much today. It’s been a comeback year for me from an injury, and I’ve finally started to ramp it up the last couple weeks, and I’m really figuring out a lot in my skiing, so I’m happy with that. I’m not letting one day hurt the progress. There’s a lot of progress, so that’s what I’m happy with. It was a good day.”
Goldberg added that he felt lowering the start put the Americans at a disadvantage as the shortened course benefited skiers with more gliding skills than if racers were entering the top sections at full speed.
“I think moving it down probably hurt us a little bit,” he said. “A lot of us are a lot more willing to put our nose in it when it’s bumpy. I think moving it down kind of let some of the glider guys, that are just good gliders, have a little advantage, so I was really hoping to go from the top, but I knew I’d be okay from there, but it was just kind of more like the course just deteriorated a little bit after having three runs down it.”
The men now race alpine combined on Monday, Feb. 13.
View the photo gallery from today’s race here.
1. Beat Feuz (SUI) – Head/Head/Head
2. Erik Guay (CAN) – Head/Head/Head
3. Max Franz (AUT) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
4. Patrick Kueng (SUI) – Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
4. Kjetil Jansrud (NOR) – Head/Head/Head
6. Aleksander Aamodt Kilde (NOR) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
7. Bostjan Kline (SLO) – Stoeckli/Head/Atomic
8. Andreas Sander (GER) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
9. Peter Fill (ITA) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
10. Brice Roger (FRA) – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points|
|6||20||422139||KILDE Aleksander Aamodt||1992||NOR||1:39.40||+0.49||6.19|
|32||39||110324||VON APPEN Henrik||1994||CHI||1:41.09||+2.18||27.55|
|45||48||30149||SIMARI BIRKNER Cristian Javier||1980||ARG||1:43.95||+5.04||63.69|
|46||56||460071||ACHIRILOAIE Ioan Valeriu||1990||ROU||1:44.73||+5.82||73.55|
|50||49||110383||VON APPEN Sven||1997||CHI||1:45.60||+6.69||84.55|
|Did not finish 1st run|