Italy’s Dominik Paris officially threw his hat into the ring for the World Cup downhill title on Saturday, taking the penultimate race of the season in Kvitfjell, Norway, with a total time of 1:45.98 seconds. Following Paris in second was Frenchman Valentin Giraud Moine, 0.20 seconds back. Rounding out the podium in third was American Downhiller Steve Nyman, 0.24 seconds back for his third consecutive World Cup downhill podium appearance.
It was a perfect day for racing in the birthplace of skiing as blue skies and sunshine were plentiful by the time action got underway midday. Nyman, wearing bib number 16, took the lead from Canada’s Manuel Osborne-Paradis, who had held it since bib three. Times were getting tighter and tighter as the race progressed and it looked to be Nyman’s day until Paris took to the course wearing bib number 21. Paris yo-yoed around Nyman’s split times before taking charge in the final section of the course, setting the fastest speed across the bottom flats and taking the lead as he crossed the finish line. Three racers later, Giraud Moine managed to sneak in between Paris and Nyman for second place, just four hundredths ahead of the American.
Not counting the injured Aksel Lund Svindal, Paris now sits second in the downhill standings heading into the finals in St. Moritz, Switzerland, as Peter Fill (10th), Kjetil Jansrud (fifth), and Adrien Theaux (ninth) all finished off of the podium. Paris is only four points behind Fill, setting up a nail-biter of a finale in the Swiss Alps on March 16.
“Not a perfect run, but a fast run,” Paris explained. “I hid my speed because yesterday, in the training runs, was not so fast. I didn’t think I would be so fast on this course today, but I tried to give my best and push it to the finish line and I am so happy. It is very difficult on this course to find the right feeling. You can’t push very hard or go too clean on the lines. You have only to take your speed and hold your speed down the whole course and make some speed in the difficult parts and that’s very important here.”
Saturday’s performance marks the first World Cup podium appearance for Giraud Moine, whose previous best World Cup finish had been a 12th place in the Jeongseon super G last month.
“I feel really good, it’s amazing to get this first World Cup podium,” he said. “I had little mistakes. I had the feeling not to be in the race at 100% and not to be able to do what I wanted, but I kept calm and my skis were fast. I carried a lot of speed into the finish and that was it. I’m so happy to go to the finals and to have an extra race, it’s only bonus, I’m looking forward.”
Nyman’s podium moved him into eighth in the downhill standings and he now looks to close out the season strong and further improve that ranking in St. Moritz.
“Today, it’s funny, every race day I’ve been really nervous,” admitted Nyman. “I’ve had that mental battle of like, ‘am I feeling it, or am I not feeling it?’ You know? I’ve just had to settle myself down and focus on the necessities. I know everything is working right, I know my body is right, I just have to perform.”
“For me, I had higher expectations (for this season),” he added. “I started out very slow and definitely wanted more. I know I can do more but I also learned a lot this year and I’ll take that into next season and really establish myself in the beginning, which is what I’m used to doing and then not having the best end of season. So far, I’ve had a really good end of season so if I mix those together, hopefully I can make a push for the title.”
American Travis Ganong managed to crack the top 10 in eighth, 0.90 seconds back, in his first race since injuring his knee last month. Also, Marco Sullivan finished 18th in his 105th career World Cup downhill, making him the American with the most career downhill starts, surpassing Bode Miller’s previous record of 104. Andrew Weibrecht rounded out the American scorers in 20th place.
Sullivan also announced his retirement at the end of the race, bringing an end to a career that spanned 15 years, multiple injuries, podiums, and a World Cup win. We will miss you, Marco!
Racing continues in Kvitfjell with super G action scheduled to get underway at 11:15 a.m. CET on Sunday.
By Hank McKee
1. Paris, Nordica/Nordica/Marker
2. Giraud Moine, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
3. Nyman, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
4. Osborne-Paradis, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
5. Jansrud, Head/Head/Head
5. Feuz, Head/Head/Head
7. Kilde, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
8. Ganong, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
9. Theaux, Head/Head/Head
10. Fill, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
10. Clarey, Head/Head/Head
- Men’s World Cup downhill, Kvitfjell, Norway, March 12, 2016. … It is the 39th of 45 races on the men’s calendar. … The 10th of 11 downhills. … It is the 57th World Cup at Kvitfjell. … The 29th downhill. … Hannes Reichelt is the defending champion. … There are just 45 athletes on the start list.
- It is the sixth career World Cup win for Dominik Paris. … His second of the season having also taken the Chamonix DH on Feb. 20. … The winning margin is 0.20 of a second. … Top 11 within the same second. … Top 29 within two seconds.
- It is the first career World Cup podium for Valentin Giraud Moine… His previous best had been 12th in the Jeongseon super G Feb. 7.
- It is the ninth career World Cup podium for Steven Nyman. … His third of the season all in DH and all since Feb. 6.
- It is the 19th career top five for Manuel Osborne-Paradis and his best result of the season. … It is the 19th career top 10 for Travis Ganong and his fourth scored at Kvitfjell. … It is the 19th best result of 21 at Kvitfjell for Erik Guay. … It is the fourth score fo the season for Marco Sullivan. … and matches his best of the year. … It is the ninth best of 14 scoring result this season for Andrew Weibrecht. … And his fifth best ever at Kvitfjell. … It is the sixth scoring finish at Kvitfjell for Benjamin Thomsen and his sixth score of the season, all in DH.
- None of the top four of the World Cup overall standings participated in the race. … Marcel Hirscher leads 1625-1272 over Henrik Kristoffersen. … Alexis Pinturault is third with 1080pts and Aksel Lund Svindal fourth at 916. … Only Kristoffersen can overtake Hirscher.
- Peter Fill (10th in race) ties Svindal for the downhill standings lead at 436. … Paris is third at 432. … Five men remain in contention.
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points|
|2||24||194542||GIRAUD MOINE Valentin||1992||FRA||1:46.18||+0.20||2.36|
|7||8||422139||KILDE Aleksander Aamodt||1992||NOR||1:46.77||+0.79||9.32|
|30||43||192504||MERMILLOD BLONDIN Thomas||1984||FRA||1:47.98||+2.00||23.59|
|41||41||110324||VON APPEN Henrik||1994||CHI||1:49.93||+3.95||46.59|
|Did not finish 1st run|