Another big win for Kjetil Jansrud at Kvitfjell.
By Patrick S. Lang.
Five years after his maiden World Cup Super-G win on the 'Olympia-Bakke' run and twenty-four years after the first ever World Cup competition at Kvitfjell, Kjetil Jansrud celebrated quite a significant victory today in the Norwegian resort becoming the first skier from his team to dominate the rest of the field in a downhill starting from the top of the hill, beating by mere 8/100 of a second Italy's Peter Fill while the new World Champion from Switzerland, Beat Feuz, was a happy 3rd at 14/100.
The previous Norwegian winners, Lasse Kjus in 1996 and Aksel Lund Svindal in 2013, didn't start from the very top of the run as their younger compatriot on Saturday.
Canada's Manuel Osborne-Paradis, a winner here eight years ago, came in 4th only 12/100 from the podium, just ahead of Switzerland Carlo Janka and his teammate Erik Guay, 6th at 32/100 from the winner.
Slovenia's Bostjan Kline, the fastest man in Friday's race, had this time to be content with 7th place while Austria's Matthias Mayer, 2nd the previous day, finished this time a distant 16th.
19th World Cup wins for Jansrud.
With this 19th World Cup triumph - his fifth this season and his sixth in Kvitfjell, a new record - Jansrud increased a little his advance in the specialty World Cup standings with only a single downhill left on the program, at the Finals at Aspen. He now leads the standings with 407 points, 33 more than Fill, only 16th in Friday's race. Dominik Paris, 3rd with 271 points in the intermediate standings, can't interfere in their fight at Aspen.
"It's always very special to excel here on home ground in front of friends and members of my family," explained Kjetil, who has collected a total of ten podium finishes in Kvitfjell. "I don't live very far from here and I know this hill very well," he also explained. "I have been competing here for more than twenty years now, yet each time is very exciting."
"It's not just home because it's in Norway. It's home because I grew up nearby here, so it's a big thing. It's amazing and probably one of my biggest wins this season. I won my first World Cup race here, so there are a lot of good memories in Kvitfjell. Magnificent day - and I am also improving my lead in specialty standings. Yet it's not fully over- only a little more than thirty points means that if Fill wins in Aspen and I'm third then it's all gone, so it means it's going to be exciting."
In Sunday's Super-G, Jansrud can secure his second crystal globe in the specialty with another win or a 2nd place - he already clinched it back in 2015. Last winter, his teammate Aleksander Kilde replaced him at the top after the Finals at St. Moritz. Interestingly enough, his squad has collected the Super-G globe for the last five years and is unbeaten in Super-G at Kvitfjell, with Jansrud winning the last three races in the specialty.
Another podium place for Peter Fill.
While his was pleased to get back on the podium after his disappointing results at the recent ski worlds at St. Moritz - 9th in downhill and 11th in Super-G - Peter Fill was still frustrated to miss victory by only a few hundredths. "This is my fourth top-3 result this winter, I fought really hard for the win today," the defending downhill World Cup champion told the press. "I was upset after crossing the finish line when I saw that I lost the race by only 8/100 of a second against Kjetil who is also my main rival for the specialty globe. I had the chance to pass him today but now I need to achieve another great performance at Aspen to prevail as I didn't last winter at St. Moritz," Fill also said.
"Yesterday I made a big mistake and lost the speed on the top and then it was difficult to go fast, but today was a good run. All together everything worked much better today and I'm really happy with my run, it's just too bad I could not be just a little bit faster at the end."
"At least, I remain close to Kjetil for the big fight in Aspen. I have only one goal - to beat him there, so let us see what's going to happen. I know what I need to do, full attack and when I have luck, maybe I can keep that globe."
Beat Feuz likes Kvitfjell.
As Kjetil Jansrud, Beat Feuz also enjoys competing in Kvitfjell where has also enjoyed his first ever World Cup win in downhill six years ago before capturing a Super-G the following season. As many other favorites, he had to deal with some unfavorable gusts of wind on Friday to finish 7th - yet in that competition he knows where he missed the opportunity to celebrate his first World Cup win this winter.
"I was happy that we started from the very top today, this is definitively an advantage for me, I feel better on the whole track," the leading Swiss speedster commented afterwards. "Unfortunately, I was not good enough in the lower part and made a mistake in the last section. I had a very good run until then. I felt in good shape and ready for another strong run. It surely has been a great season for me, especially in January and then with that amazing World Champion title in front of my home crowd. I struggled a little in the first races after some health problems last summer which prevented me to train as hard and consistently as I was hoping."
"I was very disappointed that the downhill at Wengen had to be cancelled - I felt ready for a great race there. Then I had that tough moment at Kitzbühel, yet I am pleased with my recent podium finishes at Garmisch-Partenkirchen and now here. I'm pretty satisfied with my season. I just hope that I'll be able to perfectly prepare the coming seasons."
While 25-year-old Stian Saugestad scored his first ever World Cup points with his promising 21st place, his young teammate Alexander Sannes Thorsen suffered a horrible crash in the middle of his run after failing to fully control a jump. He had to be carried away from the course by helicopter to be transported to the local hospital at Lillehammer. Apparently, he injured himself at his lower back and the front of his face. A more precise outcome of his conditions is expected in the next hours.
A former multiple winner at Kvitfjell, Austria's Klaus Kroell, who prevailed twice in downhill and once in Super-G a few years ago, entered his last World Cup race today. The soon 37-year-old racer from Carinthia competed in a total of 212 World Cup competitions since his debuts sixteen years ago, winning six races and the downhill globe in front of his fans at Schladming in March 2012. He was 4th at the FIS Worlds in that resort in February 2013 yet his worst moment took place a few weeks later when he badly injured his shoulder in a crash at the Finals at Lenzerheide, in Switzerland. He never fully recovered from that crash at only grabbed another podium finish in recent years - at Wengen, finishing 3rd there last winter.
With a total of twenty four podium finishes - including eight at Kvitfjell - Klaus has been one of the most consistent speed specialists in the last ten years. He hopes now to return soon on the tour as a trainer - after successfully passing his degree as national coach. We wish him good luck in his new life!