Innerhofer wins men's World Cup downhill
BEAVER CREEK, Colorado (AFP) –
Italy’s Christof Innerhofer authored a near-perfect run Friday to win men’s alpine skiing World Cup downhill ahead of Norwegians Aksel Lund Svindal and Kjetil Jansrud.
Innerhofer clocked 1min 41.69sec on the “Birds of Prey” piste to beat Svindal — winner of last weekend’s downhill and super-g races at Lake Louise — by 23-hundredths of a second.
Jansrud was 50-hundredths off the lead.
Innerhofer, the reigning super-G world champion whose pre-season training was hindered by back trouble in the wake of a road accident in July, was ecstatic with the victory.
“Today I’m crazy happy,” said Innerhofer, who said his aggressive skiing on the steeper part of the course paid off.
“It was an amazing run. I was on the start, really relaxed … I knew if I wanted to be with the top guys I must do the difference on the steep part.
“I took all the risks. I took more straight lines like in the training and skied really, really well.”
The 27-year-old Italian captured the fourth World Cup victory of his career and his second downhill to go with one he won in Bormio in 2008.
It was a nice bounce-back after a disappointing weekend at Lake Louise, where he finished 27th in the downhill and 24th in the super-G in the first speed races of the men’s World Cup season.
While he said his back is still not 100 percent, he said he was thrilled with how it’s holding up to the rigors of the World Cup season.
“We don’t speak any more about the back, after this run it’s perfect!” Innerhofer said.
Despite his difficult off-season — or who knows, maybe because of it — Innerhofer said he’s enjoying skiing now like never before.
“I just can’t believe what is happening to me,” he said. “I have been through a rough past few months but on the other hand right now I have never had so much pleasure skiing.
“I think that having to go through so much pain during the summer, I must have saved all the joy of skiing for now.”
Svindal, untouchable in Lake Louise, committed what he called “a big mistake” on the second part of the course where he got “a little too aggressive”.
However, he couldn’t be too unhappy with his third podium finish in as many races.
“On the steep part I was trying to ski a straight line, trimming the corners because I knew Christof had had a great race,” said Svindal, who finished the day with his World Cup overall lead intact on 280 points.
American Ted Ligety is second in the standings after five races on 170 points.
“I knew that I was going to pay for it at a certain point. It came at Screech Owl — I had to ski a less aggressive line,” he said of the left-handed turn.
“Considering what happend I am very happy that I got away with it and still was on the podium, let alone finishing second.”
Racing continues this weekend with a super-G and a giant slalom.