Austria takes top three spots in Kvitfjell training
KVITFJELL, Norway – A beautiful first Downhill training got slightly tainted by the hard gusts of wind which forced the organizers to lower the starting point to the reserve start prior to bib number one even leaving the start gate. Even though it was an incredibly sunny day, the strong wind forced for multiple start stops among other things in order to take down the finish area banner and avoid it flying off its position.
The Austrian team dominated the training, we saw Klaus Kroell set the pace by crossing the finish line in 1 minute, 30.28 seconds. Kroell was faster than teammates Hannes Reichelt who finished second, 0.29 seconds behind and Franz Max who rounded up the training podium finishing 0.45 seconds off the leader’s pace.
“It was really hard to assess the intensity of the wind today,” Kroell said. “Especially in the lower section you could feel it was impacting your run. On one of the last jumps I felt it getting under my skis and I ended up landing further down than I expected.”
Coming from a slight disappointment of a fourth place at the World Championships Downhill and than a podium in the latest Downhill in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Kroell is focused on doing well this weekend here in Kvitfjell, a venue where he won both a Super G and Downhill last season.
“I have always liked it here, and last year’s results sure give me great confidence. I am not thinking about the discipline title but doing well here sure wouldn’t hurt.”
Wind was the big topic in the finsh area and Reichelt was among the first to admit that it’s much harder to stay focused on performing well when you are trying to predict where the wind will be coming from and what to do not to let it impact your run.
“It was really hard to asses where the wind was coming from and it was a mentally hard training,” Reichelt said after finishing second in today’s training. “I am sure in the race I will have to step up my game but for a first training I am happy with the way I skied and handled the conditions.
Franz Max has had a few ups and downs this season, since finishing second in Lake Louise he collected three DNFs and only one top 10 result, a fifth place in Kitzbuehel.
“I must say that at the top it was not so bad but at the bottom it was hard with all the wind. It’s just the first training so all I was trying to do is find a good line down and it looks as if I didn’t do all that bad. I like the slope and we will see what happens in the next days.
As the wind seems to only be picking up as the day progresses, there might be an option of anticipating the start of Friday’s second training run in order to possibly have more even conditions on the slope.
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by Ana Jelusic