It was a perfect Scandinavian winter day as sunshine bathed the men’s downhill course in Kvitfjell, Norway, on Friday as Slovenia’s Bostjan Kline claimed the first World Cup victory of his career with a time of 1:29.20 seconds in the replacement race for the cancelled Lake Louise downhill last November. Austria’s Matthias Mayer finished in second place, 0.19 seconds back and Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud gave the home fans something to cheer about, finishing 0.20 seconds back in third.
After high winds in the morning on the upper portion of the course forced organizers to lower the start to the reserve start, racing action got underway at 11:15 am CET. Running early with bib four, Kline took advantage of the fresh course and skied clean and powerful down the sprint downhill and never relinquished the lead despite a few close challengers. Jansrud looked to have locked up the runner-up spot before Mayer, with bib 18, managed so slide just one-hundredth of a second ahead of the hometown hero for second, bumping Jansrud to third.
Kline has admittedly struggled with his confidence as of late and even raced a few lower-level FIS races after World Championships to try and get back on the right track. Needless to day, with Friday’s win, the Slovenian now looks to finish the season strong.
“It feels good,” Kline said. “The whole season I knew that I can ski good, that I can ski fast. You know, I just had to be patient and today, everything came together with the skiing, the start routine, warmup and everything. It was ups and downs during this season. Hot and cold. There were things that were really good but I had some mistakes in my runs but now it was good.”
Friday’s result is Mayer’s second World Cup podium since the 2014 Olympic downhill champion broke his back at last season’s Val Gardena downhill. Mayer also won the Kitzbuehel super-G in January.
“I really needed the time in downhill to give everything, to risk everything,” Mayer explained. “If you don’t do that, you can’t be on the podium. I’m very happy about my run today because it feels great to be back with these guys, to be one of the fastest here.”
Being somewhat of a Kvitfjell native, growing up just north of the 1994 Olympic venue, it is always special for Jansrud to make it on the podium in front of family and friends, especially given his bout with sickness at World Championships earlier this month.
“It felt good,” he said in the finish. “It’s home field advantage so you kind of wanna win, but today was a tight race and third place is good and that makes it even better when you look at the overall (downhill title) and I grab the red jersey back, which is always a good thing even though it’s still very tight between Fill and I, it’s a good start to the week. I feel much better, the biggest thing is I had bronchitis in the World Champs. Now that’s way better, now I don’t have any problems.”
Canada’s Erik Guay and Manuel Osborne-Paradis managed to finish back-to-back in fourth and fifth place, respectively, as the veteran duo seems to be building on their World Championships momentum.
For the Americans, Travis Ganong led the way with an eighth-place finish. Jared Goldberg clocked in a solid 14th place as Bryce Bennett and Andrew Weibrecht rounded out the points scorers in 27th and 30th, respectively. Brennan Rubie finished 43 in his first World Cup downhill start and Thomas Biesemeyer finished 49th.
There were several other impressive performances on Friday as Germany’s Thomas Dressen charged from bib 48 to finish sixth, Swiss racer Mauro Caviezel went from 39th to 10th, and Austrian Christian Walder managed to finish in 13th from bib 37. Canadian Broderick Thompson took a scary crash as he was entering the lower section of the course but was able to ski down under his own power.
The men now race a second downhill in Kvitfjell on Saturday, Feb. 25.
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- Bostjan Kline (SLO) – Stoeckli/Head/Atomic
- Matthias Mayer (AUT) – Head/Head/Head
- Kjetil Jansrud (NOR) – Head/Head/Head
- Erik Guay (CAN) – Head/Head/Head
- Manuel Osborne-Paradis (CAN) – Head/Head/Head
- Thomas Dressen (GER) – Rossignol/Lange/Look
- Beat Feuz (SUI) – Head/Head/Head
- Travis Ganong (USA) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Hannes Reichelt (AUT) – Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
- Mauro Caviezel (SUI) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points||WC Points|
|12||2||422139||KILDE Aleksander Aamodt||1992||NOR||1:29.92||+0.72||10.09||22.00|
|31||57||422483||THORSEN Alexander Sannes||1996||NOR||1:30.64||+1.44||20.18|
|51||51||6290540||DE VETTORI Matteo||1993||ITA||1:31.38||+2.18||30.55|
|53||55||110324||VON APPEN Henrik||1994||CHI||1:31.63||+2.43||34.05|
|Did not finish 1st run|