Kueng earns maiden DH victory in front of home crowd
WENGEN, Switzerland – Downhill day finally came around in Wengen and thousands of fans eagerly awaited the beginning of one of the coolest races of the season. What started like a beautiful and sunny morning soon turned into a day far from ideal for downhill racing. Through the morning the wind picked up its pace and about an hour before the scheduled start time, it was so strong in the top section of the course that the Jury had to make a call to lower the start to a reserve position – below the Hundschopf Jump, one of the highlight sections of the Lauberhorn.
But if fans might have been disappointed by the shortened course and missed opportunity to see one of the most spectacular jumps on the tour, certainly got their tickets worth as Swiss Patrick Kueng put down a flawless run and skied to his first downhill victory. The Swiss has showed he could be one of the top contenders in todays race after finishing 4th and 5th in the two training runs and today he topped the very tight podium ahead of Hannes Reichelt and Aksel Lund Svindal.
“I think it’s the best place to win a downhill, there are so many people here in Wengen. It’s a perfect day for me,” a very excited Kueng said.
This is just incredible... this is a dream but to achieve it you have to go very fast, you have to risk. I could have easily finished just off the podium, it was such a tight race but despite it being shortened I think I won it in the last section, I skied well and took home the victory,” he continued.
Out of the top three skiers, Reichelt is the one with the most familiarity with the downhill podium in Wengen as he has finished 2nd in 2012 and 3rd last year. It has been a successful season so far for Reichelt who celebrated podium placements in Beaver Creek (2nd in DH and 3rd in SG) and in Bormio where he finished just after Svindal. Three experienced skiers shared the podium today.
“I think Aksel and Patrick have the same experience level as I do but it was skiing hard and not letting the bumps rule our runs what set us apart from the rest,” Reichelt explained.
“I was trying to win today but in the end I am very happy about that 0.01 ahead of Aksel and that that detail earned me a second place,” the Austrian said.
Svindal was very pleased with his podium in Wengen, especially since his only other podium placement at the Swiss Classic came in the form of a 3rd place in the 2011 super combined race. With today’s third place Svindal retained his red leader’s bib and is currently 100 points ahead of Reichelt in the downhill Cup Standings. At the same time he increased his Overall World Cup lead ahead of Marcel Hirscher by an additional 60 points and is now leading by 83 points.
“I think of the Overall all the time as people constantly remind me of it. It’s hard to not think of it but I ski and Hirscher skis and in the end we will have to do the math,” Svindal shared his thoughts on the point’s situation.
Svindal also agreed with the Jury today, lowering the start meant maybe slightly less excitement but a safer and fairer race.
“But every podium is a good podium and today was a fair race. It never would have been a fair race if we started from the top, as it was so windy. If I won today I would have ticked off a really big box off my bucket list but I am still happy with this third place. Wengen hasn’t always been that good with me so I’ll take this third place, it’s my best placement her so far anyway,” he said
The shortened course made it a very tight race with the top 15 finisher all skiing within one second from the leading time.
Tomorrow its back to tech as the traditional Wengen slalom is scheduled to take place. Last year Felix Neureuther claimed the top spot, who’s turn will it be this year? Stay tuned to find out!