Svindal sets the pace on the Streif
KITZBUEHEL, Austria – This morning at 11.30 sharp the first racer left the starting gate and ventured on the Streif, marking the official start of one of the most awaited and thrilling weeks of the World Cup season. The 73rd edition of the Hahnenkamm-Rennen kicked off on time despite the overnight snowfall, which slightly impacted the conditions of the course.
Aksel Lund Svindal, set the pace on this first training day, crossing the finish line in 1 minute, 59.34 seconds. Hannes Reicelt, fresh off the podium in Wengen finished his training run in second place, 0.25 seconds slower then the leader, while Svindal’s teammate Kjetil Jansrud placed third, 0.66 seconds off the fastest time.
There was a moment of uncertainty this morning on whether the training would go on as scheduled as the overnight snowfall, warm temperatures and fog which kept coming in and out the course made conditions not ideal.
“It was definitely quite dark and bumpy but I was lucky to avoid the fog,” Svindal said after his run. “But apart from that, the slope looks a good and with the weather improving in the next days it will be a great race as always.”
Erik Guay, who is representing the athletes in Kitzbuechel for the Downhill and Super G had a talk with Chief Race Director Guenter Hujara after inspecting the course as some athletes were concerned that today’s training might damage the course.
“I looked at the top section of the course and to me personally it seemed smoother than what we have seen in the past, but I don’t see everything so I talked to other athletes and tried to get their opinions,” Guay said about the events leading to the confirmation of the start. “ It was brought to my attention that the snow was crumbly and the training would generate holes which would freeze later in the week. Right now it’s hard to tell so let’s wait and see how things develop by race day. But, I think that it’s always good to get the first training off and then whatever happens it gives athletes to opportunity to miss one for whatever reason. It’s never easy to make a decision, but I spoke to Guenther and I feel like we both did our job – the Jury took a vote and the decision was to run on schedule.”
With two more trainings scheduled before the race excitement will only increase over the next few days, culminating in one of the most adrenaline packed weekends the Tour sees all winter.
by Ana Jelusic