WENGEN, Switzerland — It takes a special run to beat Switzerland’s best skier Beat Feuz on his home snow. Vincent Kriechmayr found it Saturday to win a World Cup downhill.
Austria’s Kriechmayr was 0.14 seconds faster than Feuz on the storied Lauberhorn hill, finishing the longest World Cup course in 2 minutes, 28.36 seconds.
Feuz, the pre-race favourite, had won each downhill in Switzerland for the past three years, including the 2017 world title at St. Moritz and this classic Wengen race last year.
“It was nearly perfect,” Kriechmayr said of his performance. “He (Feuz) is the best downhill skier in the last years and it’s nice to beat him.”
Feuz blamed mistakes at a tight series of curves, where he was 20th fastest in that section midway down, for losing the chance to match his 2012 and ‘18 wins.
Aleksander Aamodt Kilde was third, 0.26 behind, after leading Kriechmayr by 0.01 at the final time split. That pushed Kilde’s Norway teammate Aksel Lund Svindal into fourth.
Bryce Bennett of the United States extended his consistent season in fifth, 0.63 back, to follow career-best fourth places in the two previous downhills.
Kriechmayr is the fifth different winner in five World Cup men’s downhills this season, and he rose to second in the standings behind Feuz. The 27-year-old Austrian is now fourth in the overall standings, led by a wide margin by his teammate Marcel Hirscher, who is favoured to win the slalom on Sunday.
Switzerland’s signature Alpine ski race was run on the full 4.27-kilometre (2-2/3 mile) track under perfect blue skies on a crisp, cold day.
Race day began with the traditional flypasts around the picturesque course and surrounding Eiger, Moench and Jungfrau mountains by Swiss air force display jets.
With an icier snow surface than in training runs, several skiers failed to complete the stamina-sapping race or crashed in the finish area.
Sixth-placed Emanuel Buzzi was airlifted from the hill by helicopter after crashing into padded safety barriers in front of the course-side television presenters.
The 24-year-old Italian was given an intravenous drip during lengthy treatment on the snow, though he waved to the crowd as he left on a stretcher after his career-best result.
Buzzi sustained a fracture in his right knee and is expected to return to Italy for surgery, race officials later reported.
American Steven Nyman crashed at the fastest part of the course, around 140 kph (87mph) on a straight section, when the edge of his left ski caught an icy bump.
“I was coming down the Haneggschuss thinking ‘I’m feeling good’ and wham. I had no thought of anything. It just happened,” said Nyman, whose face was bloodied from biting his tongue as he tumbled forward.
Kriechmayr’s fourth career win came 14 months after his first, in a super-G at Beaver Creek, Colorado. His other two wins were last March in the World Cup finals meeting at Are, Sweden, which hosts the world championships next month.
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Graham Dunbar, The Associated Press