The Kandahar track at Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a different kind of war zone. While its name pays homage to the city in Afghanistan, it’s not located in the Middle East. Instead the run, which was named after English commander and “the Earl of Kandahar” Frederick Roberts, lives in the middle of the ski world. When it comes to the battle, it’s just the athlete versus the dark, rugged slope, and Saturday’s World Cup downhill was no exception.
Swiss speed star Beat Feuz ended the day triumphantly with a final time of 1:55.39, becoming the first Swiss man to win three World Cup downhill races in a season since Didier Cuche did so in 2011-12. It also marked his first victory on the German track to accompany the two third-place downhill results from earlier in his career.
With the win, the reigning World Champion in downhill surged ahead of Aksel Lund Svindal in the discipline standings with 542 points. The Attacking Viking took fourth in the race and slipped into second in the rankings with 502 points. The Swiss skier also moved up a spot to fifth in the overall standings where Austrian Marcel Hirscher leads.
Austria’s Vincent Kriechmayr and Italy’s Dominik Paris tried to catch Feuz, but tied for second place, 0.18 seconds off the winning pace. Kriechmayr was in the green for the majority of the course until the final split where Feuz made up time. The Austrian was clearly happy with second place–his first World Cup podium in downhill–as he thrusted his fist in the air in the finish area.
“I’m glad that I brought it down, but again I had a mistake,” he said.
On the other hand, Paris is no stranger to the World Cup podium, earning 22 top three finishes in his career including a win last month at Bormio. However, this was the first he had earned at this venue.
“Today I felt good and, apart from the passage where Feuz made the difference, I skied fast and I finished a good race,” the Italian shared. “Certainly this podium is a good injection of confidence for the Olympics. I know I am again fast, after a period when I did a little more effort. Now a bit of rest and then a couple of days of slalom training for the Olympic combo, then the start.”
The American field was small, but solid in the race. Bryce Bennett and Thomas Biesemeyer were the only starters as teammates Steven Nyman, Wiley Maple and Jared Goldberg decided not to start in order to let their bodies recover from various recent crashes in time for the Games. Bennett finished in 16th place while Biesemeyer finished in 29th.
This was the final men’s downhill race before the Winter Olympic Games next month, and surely, these men hope to turn their momentum into medals. Interestingly enough, it is rare for the person who wins the final World Cup downhill before an Olympic Games to win Olympic gold. Pirmin Zurbriggen was the last man to pull off that feat in 1988. According to Gracenote, the only other skier to achieve this was Franz Klammer, who won the World Cup in Kitzbuehel before winning downhill gold in the 1976 Innsbruck Games.
Racing continues on Sunday with the men’s giant slalom at Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
1.Beat Feuz (SUI) – Head / Head / Head
2.Vincent Kriechmayr (AUT) – Fischer / Fischer / Fischer
2. Dominik Paris (ITA) – Nordica / Nordica / Marker
4. Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) – Head / Head / Head
5. Hannes Reichelt (AUT) – Salomon/ Salomon/ Salomon
6. Peter Fill (ITA) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
7. Thomas Dressen (GER) – Rossignol/Lange/Look
8. Mattias Mayer (AUT) – Head / Head / Head
9. Brice Roger (SLO) – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
10. Emanuele Buzzi (ITA) – Head / Head / Head
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Total Time||Diff.|
|4||1||421328||SVINDAL Aksel Lund||1982||NOR||1:55.67||+0.28|
|12||20||422139||KILDE Aleksander Aamodt||1992||NOR||1:56.47||+1.08|
|25||28||512031||BARANDUN Gian Luca||1994||SUI||1:57.20||+1.81|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|Did not start 1st run|