Three years later, Raich wins again
CRAN MONTANA, Switzerland- Three years after his last victory, a Super Combined in Val d’ Isere, Benni Raich takes the top spot again. With a perfect run and a time of 1 minute, 34.37 seconds, Raich achieved his first Super G victory, making it his 36th time on the top step of the podium.
After his 15th place on Friday, Adrien Theaux stepped up his game in today’s race and finished in second place, just 0.24 seconds off Raich. Didier Cuche ended up just switching positions with Raich today; he finished in third position, .36 off the fastest time.
“It’s great and I am really happy,” Raiched seemed thrilled about the result. “I did a lot of training for the speed disciplines, a lot of Downhill and Super G. Since 2003 I have no victory in these events, some podiums but never a victory…Now that it finally happened it just feels great!”
He proved he could be there with the fastest guys already on Friday and by taking the experience from the first race and making some adjustments he was able to be unbeatable the second time around.
“I was really close all these years, I was often really good in the Super G so I can’t really say why it suddenly all came together for me today. It’s maybe that yesterday I saw I was in touch with the best guys out there and that’s important to know, it gave me a lot of self confidence and now I have a podium and a victory in a discipline where I was not that good this year. It makes me strong an that helps for sure.”
Raich, who will be turning 34 in two days, is one of the veterans of the Tour but it seems that he has not yet had enough of the life on the Tour.
“It’s hard to say where exactly I am going for now, but all I know is that I plan to stick with skiing, I am really hungry for results and victories so I’m not going anywhere,” he commented on his future plans.
Theaux might have felt a little disappointed after the first SG, but he sure learned from his mistakes and skied to his third podium this season. By far the youngest of the podium finishers, Theaux enjoyed the company on the podium.
“I’m very, very happy to share this podium with Didier and Benni- this is perfect,” he said. “It was very difficult today, I felt good coming down but with the amount of jumps on this slope, it’s often hard to know if you are skiing the fastest line down, so crossing the finish line and seeing I’m second was a great feeling.”
The slope in Crans Montana is full of rolls and blind spots, and having two races in a row sure helped the skiers in their approach to it.
“We trained here just once before, it’s a beautiful Super G but very difficult with all the jumps- it’s hard on the legs, I was so tired at the end.”
Cuche keeps climbing on the podium this season, with a total of four victories and seven podiums this season it seems as if he is really enjoying his last weeks on the Tour.
“It takes some good skiing, some good skis and attacking hard…but sometimes not too hard because in conditions like these it’s too soft for that,” Cuche said.
After a perfect run yesterday, Cuche felt as if he didn’t ski as well as he hoped for today.
“I think I skied better the top section than I did yesterday, but than I made a mistake- went too straight and had to push hard into the soft snow to get back to the line, I killed my speed to the finish line. There is a lot of terrain, lots of rolls here and you have to be tight on the line, not ski too round. I think the trick is to work with the terrain instead of working against it.”
After today’s race Cuche is only seven points behind Svindal in the chase for the discipline title, with two more SG races scheduled in Norway, plus the finals it’s sure going to be an interesting battle.
“It’s really tight now with Axel [Lund Svindal], Raich is now in the mix as well. It’s going to be interesting, with only three aces left and I think there are four or five guys who can sure still win it.”
Cuche couldn’t be more right, with Svindal leading the pack with 288 points, there are four more guys with over 200 points. Cuche, Hudec, Feuz and Raich all still stand a really good chance of making it to the very top at the end of the season.
With 21 guys that didn’t make it to the finish, today’s course proved to be as challenging as yesterday. With a Giant Slalom coming up on Sunday, it will be interesting how the course setter will use the terrain and how much of a challenge will be put in front of the technical skiers.
Don’t forget to tune in for the first run at 10 am.
by Ana Jelusic