Hans Olsson enjoys a ride to the top in the first Downhill training in Val Gardena

14 December 2011 13:38

VAL GARDENA, Italy- With a time of 2 minutes, 02.42 seconds Hans Olsson set the fastest time on Wednesday’s first Downhill training, and he did so by having lots of fun coming down the Saslong. Olsson seemed to enjoy his run so much that at the famous “Camel Hump” jump, he even had a brief scream of joy while mid air. Bode Miller and Romed Baumann finished the race tied in second place, 0.35 seconds behind the leader. Overall, today’s training was somewhat tight at the front of the pack, with Kjetil Jansrud in eight place being the first skier more than a second behind Olsson.

Although the early morning weather didn’t allow too much optimism, by start time it stopped snowing and the light fog covering the race course lifted. At 10.45, South Tyroler Peter Fill left the start gate as schedule, and up until bib number 40 it seemed that against all predictions, the whole training run might be held without any mayor seatbacks. Than within just a couple of minutes, a tick layer of fog rolled back in, covering the top section of the course and forcing organizers to put a start stop before bib number 46, Mattia Casse from Italy.

Even though everyone was looking at the sky wishing the delay would be short and an isolated annoyance, after that first break, the training went  on, but on the weather’s pace. Many interruptions were necessary in order to assure athletes had some decent visibility during the whole run. Eventually, all 76 athletes were able to ski down the course, and apart from Johan Clarey from France who lost a ski in the lower section of the course but got up unhurt from the crash, noone found the course too challenging.

The Saslong is known for its demanding terrain and numerous rolls, which force the athletes to stay really focused and work hard all the way to the bottom. One of the most attractive sections of the slope is certainly the “Camel Hump”. A jump where athletes get in the air on a first bump and land some 40-50 meters later after, ideally flying over a second bump. Those who approach the first bump with too little speed, often end up landing on the second “hump”, resulting in both a hard and uncomfortable landing and major lost of speed for the flat section which comes next.

Weather permitting, a second training is scheduled for 12.15 on Thursday.

Full results can be found here.


by Ana Jelusic