If you brake, you lose – that’s what it’s usually called in racing. In Wengen, the epicenter of federal ski racing, it goes without saying who correct brakes, wins. Because the winner of the descent from the Lauberhorn can only be won by those who have flawlessly mastered the Brüggli or Kernen-S – a bottleneck that runners rush to with 110 kilometers per hour – which is completely out of date. In any case, it doesn’t play right in front of the slope underpass of the Wengernalpbahn, some have tried it (in vain) over the years. Either you drift in front of the right-hand bend, thus reducing the speed, or inserting a short counter-swing to then pull through. But also the somewhat unorthodox braking variant with a snow plow – with 2.20 meter downhill slats! – was practiced on Friday (and not bad at all): namely by world champions Vincent Kriechmayr and Christof Innerhofer.
Both of them lost their chance to win in the corners afterwards. There, where Aleksander Aamodt Kilde didn’t let anything burn and, above all, roared to the downhill victory because he was the most solid on all sections of the Lauberhorn sprint, which started just above the Hundschopf. The Norwegian slowed down – to stay with his word – the Swiss top duo with Wengen Super G triumphant Marco Odermatt (+0.19) and the three-time Lauerhorn winner Beat Feuz (+0.30).
The Austrians just missed the podium, but drove strongly: Daniel Hemetsberger raced with an almost perfect speed – especially in the upper section and in the finish S – in fourth place (+0.46), Max Franz (+0.66) and Matthias Mayer completed the red-white-red trio on the best non-podium places. Kriechmayr, 2019 winner of the classic, made it to twelfth place without a training run (+1.26).
Hemetsberger equalized his best downhill result so far, which he had achieved in Bormio in December. The man from the Attersee could have bought a ticket for the Olympic speed team, although it is well known that only eleven men’s starting places are available. “When I saw that I was only 16 hundredths behind Feuz, I thought to myself: this could be a good result.” But it is not only with him that the many trainings and races are already getting down to business – and that before the highlight of the World Cup season on the Streif: Thinking of the Lauberhorn classic on Saturday (12.30 p.m.), he is “already a bit black before his eyes” , confessed Hemetsberger: “It is brutally tough to puff. But I will put everything into it.”
Jury solution for Kriechmayr
He and his teammates want at least to be on the podium on the longest descent in the world – with fault-free runs this would have been possible on Friday before Franz and Mayer: “Today I made two wrong decisions while driving, which make a little difference I’m looking forward to fifth place, “said Franz.
The world champion, whose appearance after a corona infection and missed training sessions, was only possible through a special jury decision, still has plenty of room for improvement. As a result, the Mühlviertler had to heave himself out of the starting house before the race in order to comply with the rules. A decision that caused quite a few discussions, but was then accepted without protest from other teams. “I hope that this will also be the case with other athletes, that would be only fair,” said Kriechmayr.
For Kilde it was already the eleventh World Cup victory, but at the same time his victory premiere on the lauberhorn: “At the start I tried to give it full throttle. It was really great to drive. Winning in Wengen has always been a goal.” On Saturday he wants to do the double, which the Swiss want to prevent. Although Odermatt is not rated as strong on the entire route – although second place for the 24-year-old was “a bit surprising”. Feuz will soon see his countryman at the top even on the descent – maybe on Saturday. “If someone gets on the podium twice, a win is also possible. But I try to make life difficult for him.”