Kroell Leads Training as French Relish Return to Home Snow
CHAMONIX, FRANCE - Downhill training began under sunny skies in Chamonix on Thursday early afternoon with Klaus Kroell clocking the fastest time on the La Verte des Houches piste. The 30-year-old Austrian – who claimed top honors two weekends ago at the Lauberhorn downhill in Wengen, Switzerland - completed the 3370-meter course in 2:02.53.
Kroell’s time was 0.04 seconds faster than his countryman Georg Streitberger. Italy’s Christof Innerhofer was third 0.10 back, while Hannes Reichelt was fourth, + 0.14, placing three Austrians among the top four.
Thursday’s training session was interrupted for more than 25-minutes following a crash by Mario Scheiber at the Bosse du Covagnet passage approaching the lower section of the course. The Austrian skier lost consciousness for two-to-three minutes upon hitting the ground. Immediately attended to after having regained consciousness, Scheiber received a perfusion on the spot and was evacuated by helicopter to a hospital in Sallanches to undergo further medical treatment.
“Mario Scheiber broke his right collarbone. In addition, he has sustained a broken nose and a nasal sinus fracture. The good news is that no bleeding in the brain occurred. The spine, the skull-bones and arms and legs are fine. He is alert and his condition is stable. He will spend the night in the hospital for further observation,” said team physician Dr. Martin Gruber.
“It’s not easy for us with Mario’s crash,” said Kroell, having skied just two positions before Scheiber. “We hope it’s not too bad for him.”
Yannick Bertrand was the top French skier Thursday finishing fifth, just 0.28 seconds behind Kroell. Bertrand’s teammate, Adrien Theaux, who carries the momentum of a third-place finish at last weekend’s Hahnenkamm downhill was tenth, +0.67.
“I’m so happy to be here in France, I like the snow, I like the track,” said Bertrand, who is from Thonon-les-Bains, about an hour from Chamonix. “For me, a top ten on Saturday would be great and then I’ll be very confident for the World Championships.”
“The snow is very good and the course is smooth and nice, but I think it will be bumpy Saturday after two days of training,” said Theaux. “It’s nice to be home.”
Overall World Cup leader, Ivica Kostelic, posted a solid time of 2:03.11, which placed him seventh, 0.58 behind Kroell.
Saturday and Sunday mark the first time that the Kandahar Races are taking place in Chamonix since 2008. American Marco Sullivan won the downhill, while teammate Bode Miller took the super combined three seasons ago. Neither U.S. racer is competing this weekend.
Training run two is scheduled for noon tomorrow, with the Kandahar downhill at the same time on Saturday. On Sunday, racers will compete in a super combined.