ASPEN, Colo. — Spring has definitely sprung in Aspen, Colo. as World Cup Finals kicked off on Wednesday with the final men’s downhill of the season. It was shaping up to be a tough fight between Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud and Italy’s Peter Fill for the coveted crystal globe, as only 33 points separated the two at the top of the standings. As the mid-morning sun beat down in the finish, Italy had a lot to celebrate as Dominik Paris took the wire-to-wire win with a time of 1:33.07 seconds, a slim 0.08 seconds ahead of Fill and 0.18 seconds clear of Swiss Carlo Janka in third. Fill also walked away with his second consecutive World Cup downhill title by virtue of his second-place finish and Jansrud only managing an 11th-place, giving the Italian the globe by 23 points.
With the race kicked off at an early 9:30 am local time in hopes of beating the relentless spring sun, running with bib one was clearly an advantage for Paris as he held the lead at each interval throughout the race. A big man known for his incredible touch and smoothness on the world’s roughest courses, Paris made easy work of the challenging Aspen track and apart from a small bobble heading into the finish, never looked in doubt en route to his second win of the season. Fill also chose to run early with bib three and almost edged out his compatriot in the final turn before sliding into second, mere hundredths shy of the win. Janka, who ran with bib number 16, managed to charge through the quickly deteriorating conditions and punch in a podium performance, his second of the season.
Despite claiming his second Hahnenkamm title this January, Paris admitted to some late-season struggles and was delighted to end his downhill season on a high note.
“The last race wasn’t too easy for me. I was far behind the other guys, which actually probably motivated me for this race,” he said. “I knew it would be warm, and so I’m happy I made the decision to take number one. The snow only got softer. It was a great season, I ended up third in the standings. I had some bad races, but was happy to end well.”
Fill, who is the only Italian man to win the World Cup downhill title, managed to accomplish the feat for the second year in a row despite not winning a single downhill all season, proving that consistency is indeed king when it comes to the hunt for the crystal globe.
“It was hard,” Fill admitted after the race. “It was good skiing. Again, I was every time close on the victory. No victory this year in downhill, but in the end, I pick up the thing that counts and that’s the nicest thing. And today, a special day for the Italians with Dominik’s win and to have second and then, the globe. I think we have the best team — small team, but a good team. Thank you to the whole team. They work really well and they love, and they push us to go faster, and we see the results. So, thank you all the team, service guys, sponsors, thank you!”
Travis Ganong led the way for the two Americans in the field with a 17th-place finish. Ganong was flagged off the course due to a course worker falling on the track during his second training run on Tuesday and was unable to ski the bottom of the course at full speed, something he thinks factored into his result on Wednesday. Despite the disappointing result, Ganong spoke highly of the Aspen course and being able to finish off his season in the United States.
“Yesterday, I was flagged, so I was unable to ski the bottom section at full speed, it totally caught me off guard today, especially that big right footer before Norway Island,” Ganong explained. “I was way off the line, which especially down there is my bread and butter, so I was really bummed about that. Still super fun to be here skiing — very cool downhill. I think it should be a regular on the World Cup.”
The only other American starter was newly minted World Junior Downhill Champion Sam Morse, who also made his World Cup debut in front of a home crowd and managed to finish in 21st place.
“It was pretty exciting!” said Morse. “Couldn’t have dreamed of a better way to have it. Starting early, home soil, racing with the best of the world. It’s my first World Cup, so obviously just here to get the experience. I actually had some fast splits yesterday and was definitely excited to not only experience the event, but also to compete. Today, I gave it all I had, so two seconds off the best in the world is fine by me. Racing a World Cup wasn’t really a goal for me this season honestly. It was awesome to get a taste for what’s hopefully coming.”
The men and women now race super-G in Aspen on Thursday, March 16.
Check out our gallery from today’s race here.
Fans can stay up to date on World Cup by downloading the U.S. Ski Team – Ski Racing app for iOS and Android.
1. Dominik Paris (ITA) – Nordica/Nordica/Marker
2. Peter Fill (ITA) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
3. Carlo Janka (SUI) – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
4. Manuel Osborne-Paradis (CAN) – Head/Head/Head
5. Adrien Theaux (FRA) – Head/Head/Head
6. Erik Guay (CAN) – Head/Head/Head
6. Andreas Sander (GER) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
8. Mattias Mayer (AUT) – Head/Head/Head
9.Vincent Kreichmayr (AUT) – Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
10. Johan Clarey (FRA) – Head/Head/Head
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points||WC Points|
|12||10||422139||KILDE Aleksander Aamodt||1992||NOR||1:33.77||+0.70||9.40||22.00|
|Did not finish 1st run|