Swiss pin golden treble hopes on Feuz as Paris lurks

·3-min read

After Switzerland bagged double gold in the opening two women's events, all hopes will be that Beat Feuz can make it three in the blue riband men's downhill at the world championships on Sunday.

Feuz, the 2017 world champion in the discipline who went on to claim downhill bronze and super-G silver a year later at the Pyeongchang Olympics, comes into the Cortina d'Ampezzo worlds in top form.

The 34-year-old won two downhills on Kitzbuehel's dreaded Streif course last month, and also bagged podium finishes in Val Gardena and Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

Feuz finished the second downhill training on Saturday in third spot, 0.36sec off Italian Dominik Paris' leading time of 1min 39.57sec.

Paris had also topped the first training run, albeit having missed a gate that would have seen him disqualified from a proper race.

Organisers had come in for criticism on Friday, with many racers saying the course setting had been overly technical for an out-and-out downhill.

American Bryce Bennett, who had called it "atrocious", conceded on Saturday the course was "now skiable".

"The World Cup finals were cancelled here last year so they had no test event," Bennett said in reference to the finals that fell foul of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"They've made some adjustments, it's not perfect, but it's OK."

Paris agreed, praising organisers for having improved the 2.6km-long Vertigine course.

"They widened a couple of gates before the jump," said Paris, who finished fifth in Thursday's super-G, a little more than a year after blowing his knee in Kitzbuehel.

"It will be a pretty exciting and close race tomorrow."

Vincent Kriechmayr of Austria won the super-G ahead of Germany's Austrian-born Romed Baumann and France's Alexis Pinturault, the silver and bronze medallists a shock in a loaded field of better-known speed specialists.

"Today it is much more pleasant to ski," said Kriechmayr. "Some of the passages I skied well, some I can ski better. I'll have to do better tomorrow."

- 'Aggressive' downhill -

Reigning world downhill champion Kjetil Jansrud was 12th in the super-G, and while ruing organisers' missed chance to make the downhill a "classic", insisted it was worthy of a proper world champion.

"Yesterday they kept the speed down," the Norwegian said. "They opened the speed today, it feels more natural.

"They're on the right track. The problem with setting is that it's a very narrow corridor.

"It's definitely a downhill that suits the world champs. You have one of the most beautiful hills in the world, almost, in Cortina, it's such an amazing place."

Jansrud added: "They could have planned a really amazing classical downhill, but instead we end up skiing the warm-up slope from the ladies where they've made a little chicane and a jump.

"It's more a little disappointment than critique because it could have been amazing.

"But it's still going to be an interesting, aggressive downhill."

France's Johan Clarey said the compacted snow conditions were, for him, a "catastrophe", adding he didn't have much hope of being able to threaten the podium.

"I can't do anything about it, it's often like that at big races, conditions that are super-aggressive, a bit like in South Korea," said Clarey, at 40 one of the elder statesmen of the elite alpine skiing circuit.

"I don't really have any solution for them. I hope I'll find one overnight. I haven't found one on 20 years, so we'll see."