KITZBUEHEL, Austria — It was another postcard-perfect day in Kitzbuehel, Austria, as hordes of ski-mad fans packed the stadium to watch the fastest men on two skis take on the one and only Hahnenkamm downhill on Saturday. When the snow-dust had settled, it was Italy’s Dominik Paris who emerged victorious with a winning time of 1:55.01 seconds, beating out a pair of Frenchmen with Valentin Giraud Moine in second, 0.21 seconds back, and Johan Clarey in third, 0.33 seconds off the pace.
With a relatively early start number of nine, Paris charged the notoriously icy track and risked it all on the bottom sections of the Hausberg and traverse in order to take the lead and hold it through many tough challengers, particularly that of Swiss racer Beat Feuz, who was well ahead of Paris at the Hausberg before getting a little too greedy on the traverse and finding himself in the net. Thankfully, the Swiss escaped from the fence with only a bruised ego, and fans can look forward to seeing him back in the starting gate soon.
Saturday’s victory is Paris’ second Hahnenkamm downhill title, as he claimed his maiden Kitzbuehel victory in 2013. Despite his size, the big Italian has incredible touch on his skis, allowing him to power through the toughest sections yet also have the delicacy of one of the best gliders on the circuit.
“I pushed it so hard to the bottom,” an exuberant Paris explained in the finish. “In the bottom, from the Hausberg to the finish line, I was pushing so hard because I had a good feeling on the top. I don’t know, I’m so happy. I like going fast, as fast as I can, and this happened. You are a little bit scared in the start, for sure, but you have to push it. When you push it to the first gate, then the feeling comes a little bit better, and you are skiing only fast.”
Giraud Moine took to the course with bib 24 and even had the lead over Paris at the final interval before sliding into second place. Saturday’s result is the 24-year-old’s second career World Cup podium after his second-place finish last season in the Kvitfjell downhill.
“I felt confident after the summer,” said Giraud Moine. “I was not very lucky at the start of the season, but now it is paying off, and I am really happy to make a good run today and I am really, really, happy to make it here in Kitzbuehel. There are like, fifty times more people than the other races. It’s the most dangerous race in the world, and it’s incredible to be here.”
In contrast to his compatriot’s youth, the 36-year-old Clarey was flirting with retirement at the end of last season, but decided to put it off for another year for another opportunity to race Kitzbuehel after several strong finishes in recent years.
“I’ve had some good results here; I was fourth last year and fifth a few years ago,” he explained. “I said to myself last year when I was fourth, ‘You have to be on the podium.’ I was almost retired at the end of last season, and I said to myself that I have to do one more season to live Kitzbuehel again and weeks like this and now I’m on the podium. I’m speechless. We are two French on the podium, it’s the best day I have lived on the World Cup circus.”
The American Downhillers were led by Steve Nyman in 10th place after kicking the race off with bib one. The tall Utahn had been the fastest racer in the opening training run, but hooked a tip and failed to finish the second day of training. Although a podium place was the goal on Saturday, Nyman was nonetheless content with his overall execution, despite an ill-timed error on the Hausbergkante.
“It was really cool starting number one,” Nyman explained. “They have the big dong doing up there, the countdown, and everybody is psyched to see the first guy kick out of the gate. I definitely had some nerves, but I executed really well until the Hausberg. I landed off that and ground (my edges) and that’s a long sidehill traverse and not carrying that speed across that cost me a lot of time. I was happy with the execution and this year, the piste is so icy and brutal. Yeah, it was fun, and I’m glad I’m in one piece!”
Andrew Weibrecht was the next Amercian in 19th place. Thomas Biesemeyer, in his first downhill start at Kitzbuehel, managed to claw his way from the 50th start position to finish an impressive 23rd, well after the best light had left the hill, and Travis Ganong rounded out the American point scorers in 29th. Jared Goldberg finished in 40th place and Bryce Bennett ended the day in a three-way tie for 41st.
Hahnenkamm week wraps up on Sunday, Jan. 22 with the slalom.
Fans can stay up to date on World Cup by downloading the U.S. Ski Team – Ski Racing app for iOS and Android.
- Dominik Paris (ITA) – Nordica/Nordica/Marker
- Valentin Giraud Moine (FRA) – Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
- Johan Clarey (FRA) – Head/Head/Head
- Peter Fill (ITA) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Carlo Janka (SUI) – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Erik Guay (CAN) – Head/Head/Head
- Adrien Theaux (FRA) – Head/Head/Head
- Matthias Mayer (AUT) – Head/Head/Head
- Hannes Reichelt (AUT) – Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
- Stevem Nyman (USA) – Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points||WC Points|
|2||24||194542||GIRAUD MOINE Valentin||1992||FRA||1:55.22||+0.21||2.28||80.00|
|15||47||422310||SEJERSTED Adrian Smiseth||1994||NOR||1:56.42||+1.41||15.32||16.00|
|24||19||422139||KILDE Aleksander Aamodt||1992||NOR||1:56.83||+1.82||19.78||7.00|
|52||59||512031||BARANDUN Gian Luca||1994||SUI||2:01.84||+6.83||74.23|
|53||62||460071||ACHIRILOAIE Ioan Valeriu||1990||ROU||2:02.83||+7.82||84.99|
|Did not start 1st run|
|Did not finish 1st run|