Austria's Klaus Kroell fastest in 2nd downhill training In Bormio

28 December 2010 16:41

One of the most consistent speed specialists in recent seasons, Klaus Kroell seems ready to celebrate his first season win this week at Bormio after laying down two strong training runs. On Tuesday he clocked the fastest time and on Monday he was a strong 3rd just behind Italy’s Christof Innerhofer and his teammate Michael Walchhofer.

Switzerland’s Didier Cuche came in 3rd today ahead of Bode Miller while Walchhofer had to be content with the 6th best time, one second and a half behind Kroell.

Last year’s winner Andrezj Jerman was 8th , finishing ahead of Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal while Silvan Zurbriggen, the winner at Val Gardena ten days ago was a far 33rd - more than three seconds far from Kroell.

Canada’s Erik Guay, who still suffers from his lower back, decided again not to train today after checking the course during the official inspection. The 29-year-old racer from Mont Tremblant doesn’t wish to take any risks prior the January ‘Classics’ at Wengen and Kitzbühel and the Alpine FIS World Championships at Garmisch-Partenkirchen and prefers to rest his body. He will not be competing on Wednesday.

All the athletes agreed about the very difficult course conditions they had to face again on the challenging ‘Stelvio’ course covered with icy snow. “It’s terribly slippery and bumpy from top to bottom and your legs are truly burning when you approach the final section, it’s incredibly tiring,” said Kroell after his second timed trial. “It was as usual an exhausting fight from the start until the finish line, you have to dig deep in your reserves and strongly bite your teethes to stay focus till the end,” added the Austrian who has not won a downhill since his last success at Kvitfjell in March 2009. “It also remains a thrilling experience for us - fortunately we only race once a year here.”

Next to Kroell, 2nd here two years ago, Walchhofer, who competes for the last time on that run, USA’s Bode Miller, who clinched gold on the ‘Stelvio’ back in 2005, and Innerhofer, Didier Cuche will also be fighting for victory on Wednesday, trying hard to enter the prestigious group of winners at Bormio before the end of his career.

The Swiss veteran, who started his career on that slope back in 1993, missed that honor by only 1/100 of a second four years ago after finishing 2nd to Michael Walchhofer. A multiple winner on the ‘Streif’ at Kitzbühel, the 36-year-old has the skills to finally succeed on that course even though he is not too happy with the course setting that he judges too ‘sinuous’.

“In order to make it safer for the racers, the officials like to draw a more ‘twisting’ line and include a few narrow turns, but many of us doubt about this being a good option,” Cuche told the press after the training. “It’s easier to make a mistake in those tough turns and they don’t slow down the pace that much,” added the defending downhill World Cup champion. “It also takes a lot away from the specialty. It was already the case in previous downhill races this season.”

Hopefully the weather conditions will be fair for the race – a nice and warm sunshine could definitely help the racers a lot with better visibility in the lower section and a lesser icy course.


Contributed by Patrick Lang