Cuche fastest in Hahnenkamm downhill training

18 January 2012 13:56
Cuche (Agence Zoom)
Cuche (Agence Zoom) -

KITZBUHEL, Austria—Looks like ski racing gamers who put their money on Didier Cuche might get a payoff after the super G and downhill races this weekend in the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup. Bwin—a gaming site—posted the favorite to win the Hahnenkamm races and, unsurprising, odds are pro Cuche for both. 

The 2011 Downhill Overall World Cup Champion sure is looking good. In today's training run, Cuche put down the fastest run with a time of 1 minute, 58.10 seconds. Austria's Klaus Kroell and France's Johan Clarey tied for second, 0.30 seconds back. Beat Feuz, who won the recent downhill in Wengen, finished 26th.

It was Cuche's teammate Carlo Janka who said it best last week in Wengen. “Kitzbuhel is Cuche terrain.” Cuche has won the Hahnenkamm five times in his career (four downhill, one super G). He certainly is a favorite with the fans. Last week, he won the Swiss of the Year Award—voted Swiss personality of 2011 by public television viewers.

Could he get two more wins on the famous Streif? In Tuesday's downhill training (first of three), Cuche was third fastest, 0.66 seconds behinh Kroell who came in first with a time of 1 minute, 59.33 seconds. Austria's Mario Scheiber was 0.19 behind in second.

The Streif downhill is known to be the most difficult course there is—steep, fast, and technical.

On this warm, sunny day in Kitzbuhel (0 degrees C at the finish area), the athletes said the course was in good shape except one part—the Steilhang, a technical highlight of the World Cup circuit, which is a steep sidehill leading to a narrow road.

Canada's Jan Hudec, who finished 32
nd today, said, “It's like skiing on ball bearings,” explaining that there were some huge ice chunks there due to the course crew injecting that area. “It's dirty,” he added.

He also said a difficult part is the Querfahrt section—the tight left-hand traverse over shear ice near the bottom of the course—a place where the racers can make up time or lose a lot. Not only is this section another steep sidehill, but racers have to jump into it. By later in the day, it gets shaded. Hudec, full of analogies today, said: “It's like jumping into a black hole.”

The scare of the day was when Ivica Kostelic crashed on the Querfahrt. Losing control, he slid into the netting. He, however, was able to ski down. His speed suit—tattered on his lower back—was proof of quite a slide on the icy sidehill known as Querfahrt.

“You can make up time in there,” Hudec said about the Querfahrt, “or you can catch an edge and do what Kostelic did.”

More downhill training action kicks off at 11:30 a.m. Thursday. The super G is scheduled Friday, downhill on Saturday, and slalom on Sunday.

By Vanessa Pierce