Italy's Peter Fill takes top spot in Wengen downhill training
WENGEN, Switzerland—Italy's Peter Fill was the fastest of the pack today in downhill training, beating Didier Cuche by .57 seconds and Italy's Christof Innerhofer by .86.
His time was 2:36.98 on the famed Lauberhorn—the longest downhill course on the tour, running 4.455 km (2.768 miles) and forcing the athletes to race for near 2.5 minutes. Fill has never won here. In 2007, he placed third in the downhill, and in '09 he got second in the super combined.
Cuche, 2011 Downhill Overall World Cup Champion—who is always a favorite—has never won the Lauberhorn either, but particularly stinging since it is a “classic” race in his home country. He's been 2nd three times in his career—one of those times was last season.
“Sure it would be nice to win,” he said casually after his run, “...but I didn't do so well today and I'm quite surprised I'm still in front.”
How does he think he can pull off a win?: “You have to push to have a really good run, maybe it's not the perfect run but you have to push and accept the little mistakes you make and it depends also on what the other guys do.”
Last year's winner, Klaus Kroell of Austria, finished 7th.
What was a beautiful clear, cold morning turned into beautiful balmy afternoon. Due to the recent plentitude of snowfall in Switzerland and warming temperatures, the snow conditions were a challenge for the racers. “I hope it's going to get better,” said Sweden's Hans Olsson who finished 11th. “Right now it's so soft.”
Though soft conditions were a concern for the competitors, the officials were concerned if they would have to alter the race plans due to avalanche warnings, as the steep peaks above the finish area are susceptible slide zones. The plan B was to airlift the racers via helicopter to the start if a warning had come in during course inspection. No such warning occurred.
The racers' hope is that a cold evening in the next couple nights will help harden the course. The downhill race is scheduled for Saturday. The temperature in Wengen is forecast to be around 1 degrees celsius tonight and tomorrow, warming in the afternoon, but then freezing overnight.
The second training run is scheduled tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. local time.
For full downhill training results, go here...
By Vanessa Pierce