WENGEN, Switzerland ( Associated Press) — The World Cup downhill rivalry between Alexander Aamodt Kilde and Marko Odermatt came to the fore again on Friday.
Kilde won the day after beating Odermatt by 0.19 seconds after his Swiss friend had won Super-G in another duel on the storied Lauberhorn hill. He has now won 11 of the 19 men’s World Cups this season.
“At times we took revenge on each other and it’s fun,” said Odermatt, who, like Kilde, is aiming to win his first major championship medal at the Beijing Olympics next month. “He’s a great guy, we’re good friends.”
Beat Fuse on the third Friday, was 0.30 behind the Norwegian winner, while looking to secure a record fourth victory in their country’s signature race.
Kilde’s second downhill victory of the season was the fifth victory of his career and the first in January at one of the historic back-to-back race venues – the Lauberhorn in Wengen, and the Heinenkam in Kitzbühel, Austria.
“Winning the big Classics has always been a big goal,” Kilde said. “It’s been a dream day.”
It earned him 100 points and propelled him to the top of the season-long downhill standings. Still, the 2020 overall World Cup champions barely narrowed Odermatt’s gap in the overall standings.
Odermatt has six race victories compared to Kilde’s five, yet their more consistent results have taken the overall lead by almost 400 points.
Odermatt’s runner-up finish in his first downhill at Wengen was even more impressive for being faster than Fuse, his favorite teammate and four-time defending World Cup downhill champion.
“He taught me how (race) is here,” Odermatt said of Fuse, who is 34, 10. “Yeah, he’s a big, big help to me downhill.”
Odermatt and Kilde both agreed that Fuse would start the favorite on Saturday over the full Lauberhorn distance of 4.4 kilometers (2.7 mi) – easily the longest on a World Cup circuit. They went on Friday on the shorter 2.95-kilometer (1.8-mile) course commonly used in the alpine combined event that was dropped from this season’s calendar.
“It’s going to be a challenge tomorrow,” Kilde admitted. “I know the beat is strong from top to bottom.”
Brisk snow and bright sunshine ensured a quick run on cold days, with Bryce Bennett hitting speeds above 151 kilometers per hour (93 mph) in his seventh-place finish 0.95 behind.
The American’s peak speed came directly on the Heinegschus, where Johann Cleary set a World Cup record of 161.9 kilometers per hour (100.6 mph) in 2013. Now the 41st Frenchman finished 14th on Friday.
The fast snow saw some racers opt for an unusual strategy to cut down on their speed on the narrow Alpweg section, in order to prepare for a tight, slow S-shaped chain.
World champion Vincent Critchmire slows down by pointing his skis inward, like a pizza-slice shape taught to novice skiers. The Austrian finished 12th, trailing Kilde by 1.26.
Krichmayer’s involvement with the Swiss team was controversial with vocal opposition from the International Ski Federation because they did not complete one of the midweek training runs that are usually mandated to enter the downhill.
After testing positive for COVID-19 and serving a quarantine period ordered by Austrian authorities, Krichmaier arrived in Wengen late on Wednesday after only training, though just in time for the Super-G race. He won the Lauberhorn race in 2019 and will also start on Saturday.
It was the 11th Friday for 2010 Lauberhorn winner and overall World Cup champion Carlo Janka and he will end his career on Saturday in front of his home fans for the last time.
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