1st training in Val Gardena-Groeden as viewed by athletes
A trio of usual suspects has placed at the top in today’s training run. Read what Didier Cuche (Sui), Klaus Kröll (Aut) along with Patrik Jaerbyn (Swe), Christof Innerhofer (Ita) and Ambrosi Hoffmann (Sui) had to say on this first day of training:
Didier Cuche: I've skied better than expected given my back injury
"My run was pretty good and I’m myself a little surprised by my good result given all the back problems I’ve been having. I am happy enough although it certainly wasn’t a perfect run. And I’m certainly not keeping my hopes up for Saturday as it wouldn’t be a first to win the training and not the race.”
Adding on his injury: “I’m suffering from a back injury, a lumbago and spent Monday at a doctor’s in Bern. They’ve performed an MRI and administered some drugs just below the vertebrae to alleviate the pain and speed up recovery. The shots are already working and should further improve over the next few days. I’m definitely on the path of recovery even if the lingering pain is preventing me from giving it 100%.”
His views on whether experience is necessary to win on the Saslong: “Experience always counts. It is critical to be able to carry your speed and have fast skis. Ciaslat can benefit from experience to optimize your timing on push, glide and jump but overall it just takes an enormous amount of intuition. It’s certainly easier if you have done it before and done it often…”
On his plans for tomorrow: “I will decide tomorrow whether to push hard on the 2nd day of training. I don’t see why not as I want to test my equipment. And I will certainly take some more anti-inflammatories.”
Klaus Kröll: Jumps don’t leave room for mistakes
On the Saslong course: “The course presents itself extremely well and I haven’t seen many courses likes this that continue to be consistent from top to bottom. And thanks to the weather, icing wasn’t really necessary. It rained on two days last week almost all the way to the top of the course which is just plain perfect. Each turn is fun to take, you don’t have to absorb many bumps and the course won’t hardly change given it’s in great condition. As in the past, you win the race on Ciaslat which features particularly high rolls given all the masses of snow. There are generally more rolls than last year.”
On the performance of Austrian skiers: “It looks good, we’re all tight in place and some have made a few minor mistakes. Mario (Scheiber) even fell but overall it looks good. As a team we all feel very strong and hopefully that will re-establish us as a Downhill nation.”
If Saslong has lost some of its scare: “You can never think like that after seeing Mario’s fall. It partly looks easier than it really is but there are very high speed sections, plenty of jumps and no room for error. A downhill will never lose its thrill.”
Christof Innerhofer: I’m no roll surfer…
On his performance: “I am not unhappy, I had a pretty good feeling. The course is significantly harder and more difficult than last year sprinkler with more rolls and longer jumps. This poses harder challenges that are easier for some and harder for others. I am not the best at skiing these rolls but did a pretty good job at it today. I hope that I can continue to adapt to the conditions and capture some more time.”
What he is expecting from his race on the Saslong: “I have no expectations whatsoever. My health is good again and I love what I do. I’m relaxed and ready to compete as races and times have shown. My personal motto is that if I can’t make good time today, then I will tomorrow or next week.”
On his fan club in Gardena-Gröden: “My fan club has won the fan club trophy twice in a row here in the valley so all that is missing is my gold… but that will be a little hard. I’m sure that my fan club will be in full swing and give a strong performance this weekend. I certainly hope to ski stronger and capture a few Downhill World Cup points on the Saslong.”
Patrik Jaerbyn: This might be my last time on Saslong
About his first training run: "I always have a very good feeling here. Normally I ski well and I really like it here: the weather, the food, the hotel. It was a safety run, I didn’t do anything special. I was skiing well in some places and not so well in others, but I am quite happy. In the first training you always want to test how fast it is."
About the conditions of the Saslong: "The slope is in a very good condition. It is very fast and very hard. The organisers know what they are doing and they are doing a great job. You have a high expectation and they always deliver. It is a classic race, you see it on TV since when you are very little. It is fun to ski here, hopefully I ski well on Friday and Saturday, it might be my last time in Val Gardena."
Ambrosi Hofmann: Happy to be safe at the Finish
On the races in Gardena-Gröden: "I’ve already captured two podiums here and always happily return. The people are nice, the course is great – what is there more for a ski racer."
On his first training run: "Well, it could have gone better. I’m just coming out of a long injury and am purely happy to be safe at the Finish. How I do at the race depends on how high my racing fever will run. I’m working on it and hope to get to the right place. My expectations are dampened compared to last year due to the long injury break. "
On the shape of the course: "Spectacular, just plainly perfect. It is hard, compact all the way from top to bottom; not icy, but really hard."
Contributed by the Gardena-Groeden OC (www.saslong.org)