Svindal fastest in first Wengen training
WENGEN, Switzerland – Tuesday marked the first official training on the famous Lauberhorn slope in Wengen. The 4480m long slope is approximately 600m longer then any other Downhill on the Tour and the winning time has been somewhere around 2 minutes 30 seconds in the past year. It took 2 minutes, 35.31 seconds for Beat Feuz to cross the finish line in 2012 and take home the victory in front of a cheering home crowd.
In today’s first training run, skiers did not get the chance to experience the full length of the course, as this morning a decision was made to start the training from the Combined start. The decision was necessary as there was a possibility of weather conditions changing quickly and the jury wanted to ensure a smooth training run for all the 78 athletes on start.
Aksel Lund Svindal clocked the fastest time of the day, crossing the finish line in 1 minute, 50.92 seconds. Italian Werner Heel finished second, only 0.05 seconds behind Svindal while Kjetil Jansrud joined them on the training podium, finishing third, .36 second off his teammate’s pace.
In a recent blog on his website, Svindal gave a pretty detailed description of what the Wengen Downhill looks like from a skier’s prospective.
“The first minute is very smooth. Long high speed turns where it’s important to be aerodynamic and smooth on the snow,” he said about the top section of the course which skiers didn’t get a chance to test today.
“When you reach the Hundschopf jump that changes. The jump it self is more like a cliff and a jump, and the 40 meters you jump feels like they are mostly vertical. From being wide and open the course here tightens as you maneuver between cliffs and tight turns,” Svindal described one of the most spectacular section of the Lauberhorn.
Skiers then enter the Super G section and go through the famous tunnel under the Wengen railway after which speed picks up and they are flying down the course at over 150 kmh. At this point they would be about to cross the finish line at a ‘normal’ Downhill race, but not in Wengen.
Svindal continues his description - “…you’re starting to feel the legs getting very tired. But here it’s important to keep it together… If you still have some power left, and maybe more important, the metal strength, you can make up a lot of time. But its risky, as this is also the turns in the course that takes out most people.”
Werner Heel is coming back after struggling to find the perfect material and set up but from race to race one can see his confidence growing and today he was happy with his training run.
“I am happy with how it went,” he said. “The light was really flat and some sections are still a bit rough but overall I felt good and had a good run. The first training here is always a bit special, it’s very tiring. Even though we didn’t start from the top I could feel it both in my legs and lungs. I also find the first training always a bit mentally draining as you are trying to focus on all the details and take in as much information as you can. I was hoping we would start from the top as it’s always good to try the whole slope but two minutes already felt like long enough today.”
Weather keeps changing in Wengen and everyone is keeping a close eye on the developments as there is plenty of ski action scheduled for the week. With two more Downhill trainings, a Super Combined, a Downhill and a Slalom everyone is hoping that weather cooperates and everyone can have a smooth week of exciting skiracing.
by Ana Jelusic