Jansrud and Streitberger tie for victory
KVITFJELL, Norway – Third time was a charm for the downhill, which was originally scheduled in Garmisch-Partenkirchen as the last DH before the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. Lack of snow forced for a change of plans and the race was moved to St.Moritz. There might have been enough snow there, but there was even more fog so the race had to be cancelled for the second time and was rescheduled for today in Kvitfjell. The fog messed up some plans in Kvitfjell too, it canceled yesterday's training run and made a low start the only possible option.
Despite all of the above, today turned out to be an exciting race with a lot of firsts!
A training run took place at 9.30 this morning and 2.5 hours later it was time to finally race.
Olympic Super G champion and downhill bronze medalist Kjetil Jansrud typically performed poorly in the Kvitfjell downhill until he came second in the 2012 race and today he topped that – he won his first World Cup downhill in front of his home crowd. But Jansrud wasn’t alone on the top step of the podium as Georg Streitberger clocked the same time as Jansrud and earned his first downhill victory as well. The last time the top of the podium was this crowded in a men’s race was in Bormio in 2012 when Hannes Reichelt and Dominic Paris crossed the finish line with the same time.
"We don't see it happening that much,” a very happy Jansrud said.
“Sharing or not sharing it's still a win. It's a cool thing. One minute and five seconds of skiing and you manage to go inside the same hundredth, it's pretty exciting. It happens now and then and it's a way of the sport, actually, but I'm just excited I was just not one hundredth behind."
Streitberger also didn’t seem to mind the tie.
“It’s awesome to be first with Kjetil, it’s perfect,” Streitberger said.
“I like the hill here, but this morning when I saw the rain and fog I didn’t like it as much. I didn’t want to start with all the fog and snow but now I think it was perfect! I think starting first was a good thing and I put down some good skiing…better than in the last races. Still, it’s difficult to ski, it’s very wet and definitely not what we are used to ski on. Anyhow it’s still better to have a race than to have no race, especially when you win,” the Austrian added jokingly.
In third place today we saw a name that has been consistently climbing up the rankings in recent races - Travis Gagnon. The young American skied to a career best fifth in the Olympic downhill and today, after putting down strong runs in both the training and race, he finished in third, making it his first World Cup podium.
“This is a really big step in my career,” Gagnon said.
“I've been slowly building up the last four years on the World Cup tour and this last month or so I've really been finding some speed. Now I'm at a point where I'm really relaxed and having fun. The good skiing comes out when you're relaxed and letting the skis roll. I always told myself I'd get to this point. It's just a matter of time. I've had enough time now racing all these hills and I'm comfortable. I'm also stronger than I was last year and I'm more fit. I'm not burnt out at all. Usually at this time of year people are tired and right now I feel like I'm just starting out the season.”
Conditions might have bothered Gagnon but he found a way to make things work.
“When I went it was raining and I had to do a goggle wipe halfway down the hill. But on days like today it's tough you've just got to forget about the weather and just ski. You can't really see anything, so you just have to put your head down and ski.”
The forecast doesn’t call for much improvement on the weather front but a second downhill race is scheduled for tomorrow and with a bit of luck, it should be happening.