Kriechmayr edges Odermatt in shortened Val Gardena downhill
SELVA DI VAL GARDENA, Italy (AP) — A double world champion two seasons ago. The winner in Wengen last winter. Vincent Kriechmayr has added victory in the classic Val Gardena downhill to his growing list of career accomplishments.
The Austrian edged defending overall World Cup champion Marco Odermatt by 0.11 seconds on a shortened Saslong course on Thursday in a race that was rescheduled from Beaver Creek.
Three-time Olympic champion Matthias Mayer finished third, 0.13 behind.
Odermatt raced immediately before Kriechmayr and celebrated his run as if he had just recorded his first career win in downhill.
But the more experienced Kriechmayr showed his feel for the extensive series of bumps through the technical ciaslat section and was faster than Odermatt over the final jump and into the finish.
“I tried to keep 2% back just to get out more speed after the ciaslat and I think that’s why I’m in the lead, because I was pretty fast in the last part of the race,” Kriechmayr said. “Because it’s a sprint, you have to keep pushing from start to finish.”
It was Odermatt’s first time racing the downhill in Val Gardena.
“I really didn’t know if I can score points, or top 10, podium,” he said. “I had really no idea. It’s perfect. It shows the timing and high flow and everything is working at the moment.”
Odermatt planned to skip the regularly scheduled downhill on Saturday to rest up for giant slaloms — his best discipline — over the next two days in nearby Alta Badia.
“Now I have to rethink again,” he said.
Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, who won the opening two downhills of the season, placed fifth in 0.26. He pointed to starting from the lower super-G start as the reason for the tight margins.
“Today, if you’re not bringing speed the whole way then you’re out,” Kilde said. “That was my case. I didn’t really bring the speed on the bottom part and then no chance.”
Kriechmayr swept the downhill and super-G titles at the 2021 world championships in nearby Cortina d’Ampezzo then won the downhill in Wengen, Switzerland, in controversial circumstances last January after missing the official training runs because he was in quarantine with COVID-19.
This was the 13th win of Kriechmayr’s World Cup career and his sixth in downhill. He won the super-G on the Saslong in 2019.
Odermatt and Kilde remained 1-2 in the overall standings, while Kilde topped Odermatt in the downhill standings.
As usual in Val Gardena, where the light improves as the race progresses, later starters charged into the top 10.
Nils Allegre of France finished eighth with the No. 51 bib after leading the only training session, and Sam Morse led the U.S. team in 10th with the No. 38 bib for his best career result.
Bryce Bennett, the American who won this race last year, placed 29th, while three-time winner Steven Nyman wasn’t racing this week to recover from a hand injury.
A super-G is scheduled for Friday on the Saslong.
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