Severe weather conditions forced event organizers to rejigger the race schedule in Kitzbuehel this weekend. Heavy snowfall and the subsequent use of water to ice the infamous downhill course, affectionately referred to as the “Super Bowl of Skiing,” created a track which gave skiers fits in training runs.
For example, Austria’s Matthias Mayer was the fastest skier on the hill in Tuesday’s training, but dropped to 35th on Thursday.
The name that kept coming up as the potential victor for Friday, according to FIS-ski.com, was Italy’s Dominik Paris. This time, the experts got it right.
Paris is the only active skier to win multiple downhill races in Kitzbuehel, winning the race in 2013 and 2017. In training runs this week, Paris ranked third and fourth.
On Friday, Paris did tame the mountain. It was a back-and-forth battle with the clock down the course for Paris. He held a slim lead early in his run, then slipped behind the pace set by then-current leader, Switzerland’s Beat Feuz. But Paris found the speed he needed in the end, crossing the finish line .20 hundredths of a second ahead of Feuz.
Joining Paris and Feuz on the podium in third, racing on home snow, was Austria’s Otmar Striedinger. Wearing bib #27, Striedinger entered the day ranked 24th in downhill World Cup points.
The U.S.’ Bryce Bennett, coming off three-straight top five downhill finishes, including last week’s event in Wengen, finished 14th. Travis Ganong, also skiing for the U.S., finished 19th.
Last week’s two-time winner in the downhill and Alpine combined, Austria’s Vincent Kriechmayr, posted one of the most impressive DNFs of the day in Kitzbuehel. To his credit, Kriechmayr was able to cross the finish line, but not without fishtailing out of control at two separate sections of the course. Both times, he was able to recover and avoid becoming the red net’s latest victim.
Ski racing starts early on Saturday for stateside fans. The first run of men’s slalom gets underway at 3:30 a.m. ET from Kitzbuehel, with the second run starting at 6:30 a.m. ET. However, those times could change with winter weather expected to impact the mountain over the weekend. Watch the racing live from Kitzbuehel on NBC Sports Gold.
The women’s World Cup tour will run its first race of the weekend, the Super-G, from the picturesque Bavarian region of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, GaPa for short, starting at 4:00 a.m. ET, Saturday morning.
On Thursday, the U.S.’ Lindsey Vonn announced she would not be racing in GaPa. Last week in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Vonn had made her return to World Cup racing after being sidelined since Novermber with an injured left knee.
After skiing out in the Super-G on Sunday in Cortina, Vonn announced on Instagram she was battling new and severe nerve pain in one of her knees. Vonn believes the most recent injury was caused by a jump she took during a Super-G training run in Cortina. She hopes to return to racing before the end of the season.
Watch the women’s World Cup live on TV on Olympic Channel or stream it on NBC Sports Gold.
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