Svindal soars on the Birds of Prey
BEAVER CREEK, USA – Aksel Lund Svindal added another exciting chapter to his storied history in Beaver Creek, winning today’s downhill by a 0.17 margin. The Norwegian had a brutal crash on the Birds of Prey course in 2007 and came back the following year to win the race. It was Svindal’s fourth podium finish in the Beaver Creek downhill and his second win.
This year, downhill day came to Beaver Creek a little earlier than planned. Due to extreme weather, the Jury and the Organizing Committee switched the downhill and the super-G days, in order to maximize the chances of all events taking place. The move worked today as the downhill was staged under a light flurry of snow in bitterly cold temperatures.
With just one training run for all racers, it was anyone's guess who would conquer the Birds of Prey course today. Making things especially interesting was the fact the race was held on a hybrid course made up of elements from the Raptor and Birds of Prey courses.
In the end, Svindal was able to improve on his fourth-place finish from Lake Louise, edging Austria’s Hannes Reichelt and Italy’s Peter Fill, who finished 0.20 off the pace.
"I have to admit, I like the old course more," said Svindal after the race. "This course if great, but the old Birds of Prey was world class. But in the end it's all about the win, so I can't say that I'm too disappointed with the change."
For Austria, Reichelt’s second place finish kept them out of the top spot for a sixth straight downhill race, one of the longest droughts for the European nation. The second-place finish also kept the Austrians just shy of reaching the 450 victory mark across all disciplines in the World Cup.
Italy was the strongest nation in the downhill last season, winning four of five downhill races in the 2013 calendar year. The Italians looked strong again today, placing three skiers in the top-ten.
"I was able to find a good line today and have a strong run," said Fill after the race. "It's my first podium in four years, so I am definitely pleased with the result."
Svindal, who is a favorite among the fans in Beaver Creek had the full support of the crowd behind him when he came down in bib 22. With the Americans out of contention to take a podium place, the Colorado crowd was happy the title could go to their adopted hero. Bode Miller, the number one crowd favorite was the top American, finishing in 13th place.
Also promising was the sixth-place finish of Switzerland’s Beat Feuz, who was 0.66 off the pace after sitting out the last year and a half due to injury. Teammate Patrick Kueng ended in with a strong fifth-place finish.
Tomorrow will be super-G day in Beaver Creek with race time at 11:00 local time (19:00 CET).