Svindal wins a World Cup downhill, leads overall standings
WENGEN, Switzerland (AP) — Aksel Lund Svindal was due some good luck and a win on the historic Lauberhorn hill. He got both on Saturday.
Svindal won a tricky World Cup downhill in challenging weather on Saturday, finally winning Switzerland’s classic Alpine ski race at the 10th attempt to retake the overall standings lead.
The Norwegian stunned the appreciative crowd of 22,000 by being 1.52 seconds faster than early leader Klaus Kroell of Austria down the shortened 2.7-kilometer course.
Only Hannes Reichelt came close, racing immediately after Svindal and just .19 seconds slower, pushing teammate Kroell into third.
No one racing after Svindal and Reichelt had a chance as fog rolled in, and snow slowed the course.
“I have had some bad luck in Wengen before,” said Svindal, the dominant downhill racer of this generation whose first eight visits here left him far from victory. “It was good to have some good luck.”
Still, it was far from easy after the sunshine highlighting a fast racing line for No. 4 starter Kroell was long gone when the top two finishers overcame poor visibility as Nos. 18 and 19.
“How many races do you have in you where you are able to go to that extreme? Not many,” said Svindal, who has won four of the five downhills this season.
Svindal earned his 100 race points that lifted him 15 ahead of Marcel Hirscher, the four-time defending champion from Austria. Hirscher does not race downhill, and starts among the favorites in the slalom on Sunday.
Norway has swept the three-race Wengen meeting so far after Kjetil Jansrud edged Svindal for victory in the combined on Friday.
With 11 World Cup wins for Norwegian men this season, in just 18 races, the Nordic nation matched its all-time Alpine season record with two months left.
Jansrud had no hope on Saturday, starting No. 22 after a 15-minute delay for fog. He finished 2.13 back and was visibly frustrated in the finish area.
Svindal and Reichelt expressed their sympathy for the racers who followed them in the fast-changing light.
“Today was really a tough race. I was really on the limit,” said Reichelt, who won this race last year and has made the podium four straight times.
Kroell, the 2011 Lauberhorn winner, had no top-10 finish in any race for more than two years.
“It was very important to be back in business,” said Kroell, who described the top two as “unbelievable. I was best of the rest today.”
Svindal was the ninth different Lauberhorn winner in nine years, since Bode Miller of the United States completed back-to-back wins in 2008.
The start was brought down the mountain from the full 4.4-kilometer distance because fog and snow prevented a planned early morning training run on the top section.