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17 Януари 2012 - 18:06
Kitzbuehel 2012: It`s closing in
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ALPINE SKI. The Hahnenkamm-Races: nothing gets the juices flowing in the ski world quite so much. For one weekend in January everything focuses on a small Tyrolean village in Austria; a charming, picturesque location that 80 years ago burst onto the alpine racing scene offering a contrastingly raw contest of man against mountain that has been mimicked but never matched. Over the coming days Kitzbühel will draw the attention of the world like no other skiing event.

Ivica Kostelic (CRO) at the start of Downhill Training 1, Photo by: Rolex /Stephan Cooper

Rolex S.A., the Swiss watchmaker and the Official Timing Partner of the 72nd Hahnenkamm-Races holds in high regard the values needed to succeed at this test of skill and nerve: determination, precision and perseverance. Last year, it was Didier Cuche in the Downhill, Ivica Kostelic in the Super-G and Classical Combined, and, Jean-Baptiste Grange in the Slalom that took the plaudits and proved themselves superior in mind and body, and perhaps even soul, to their fellow competitors. This year who knows who will have the all-important edge in boldness and ability.

Form report
If the past weekend in Wengen is any form guide, then expect fireworks from Beat Feuz, the young Swiss hero who took the Downhill from Austria's Hannes Reichelt and Italy's Christof Innerhofer. Rolex testimonee Carlo Janka placed his marker too, finishing fourth, only six tenths off the lead, and says that "the result in Wengen is a good boost to my confidence heading into Kitzbühel".

Carlo Janka (SUI) in Downhill Training 1, Photo by: Rolex /Kurt Arrigo

Otherwise, studying the Alpine World Cup leaderboard shows the young Austrian technical sensation Marcel Hirscher leading the overall standings. Hirscher will be looking to put his season back on the rails after a disqualification in Wengen with strong performance in the Slalom on the Ganslern on Sunday, 22 January. Kostelic, following his outstanding Slalom and Super Combined win in Wengen is ahead of Hirscher in the season's Slalom competition and just behind in the Overall. Kostelic knows just how hard it will be to repeat his astonishing performance in Kitzbühel in 2011. He has not yet won his favoured Slalom here and that is a gap in his curriculum vitae that needs correcting. Aksel Lund Svindal lies in fourth place overall, but leads the Super-G discipline, which suggests he too could be a threat in the speed trials: the Downhill on the Streif on Saturday, 21 January and the Super-G on the Streifalm on Friday, 20 January.

Carlo JANKA (SUI) inspecting the piste, Photo by: Rolex /Kurt Arrigo

The last American to win at the holy of holies was Darron Rahlves in 2004 in the Super-G following his Downhill win in 2003. His enigmatic counterpart, Bode Miller, second last year to Cuche, is second on the 2012 season Downhill leaderboard but has yet to top the podium in Kitzbühel in any discipline. He came close last year and has a point he will wish to prove. And, of course, no one will discount the irrepressible Cuche. Seeking his six win in Kitzbühel (3 Downhills, 1 Sprint Downhill and a Super-G so far), he has already shown his unremitting hunger this year winning the first Downhill race of the season in Lake Louise.

Weather report
Heavy snowfall at the beginning of January, followed by cold, stable conditions, has enabled proper piste preparation. A huge contrast to last year, which saw poor snowfall, rain and sub-zero temperatures create treacherous courses. The forecast for the next few days is true to a mountainous region and simply changeable. Today's first training run, where Austrians took the top two spots, was held cloudy, but dry conditions. Tomorrow should be brighter, followed by an overcast Thursday, with the possibility of snow. No one is promising, but everyone is hoping that the situation will improve for the weekend.

Whatever happens, whoever wins, hold onto your hats. The Hahnenkamm-Races are upon us.

Mastering the Streif - Marco Büchel
Liechtenstein's Marco Büchel, a six-time Olympian, is no stranger to the world's toughest Downhill track. The recently retired racer first challenged the rigorous demands of the Streif at his Hahnenkamm debut in January 2000.

His best Hahnenkamm Downhill result came in 2006, when he missed victory by a whisker of 0.05 seconds. In 2008, aged 36, Büchel won the Super-G to set a then record as the oldest winner of a World Cup race. Büchel is well placed to explain what it takes to survive and even to succeed on the intimidating course.

"First you have to have the courage to attack, especially in the two turns before the Mausefalle," asserts the former racer. "You need a smooth sequence and take maximum speed out of these turns. Then you're in the middle of the war, fighting. If you can keep clean to the end of the Steilhang you're in good shape."

Robbie Dixon (CAN) in Downhill Training 1, Photo by: Rolex /Kurt Arrigo

In Büchel's view the perfect aerodynamic tuck is all-important heading onto the Brückenschuss to maintain speed through the flatter middle section. "The top part demands technical skiing and requires courage; the middle part requires gliding. It's totally contrary," says Büchel. "You need the skis to run and to not think too much until the Alte Schneise where it's bumpy and you have to focus once again."

At the Hausbergkante racers catch their first glimpse of the thousands of spectators filling the finish area below. After launching into flight and landing on an uneven side slope, racers are into the final leg-jarring homestretch. Beforehand is a conundrum.

"There are two different lines to choose off the Hausberg, because there is a compression approaching and the hard left turn that leads onto a traverse," says Büchel. "Most people jump to the right which offers an easier route down to the finish. Winners or crazy people jump to the left, closer to the inside line, to carry their speed over a shorter distance." He adds a caution, "half those that jump to the left go straight into the netting."

Büchel admits that the sensation of skiing at Kitzbühel is one of a kind. "There's nothing quite like it," he says. " And, the Streif always shows its teeth."

Realising the Dream - Ivica Kostelic
Last season's trip to Kitzbühel proved to be a dream weekend for Ivica Kostelic. Over three days, the Croatian veteran surprisingly captured his first career speed event, the Super-G, won his second consecutive Classical Combined, ended second in the Slalom, and, finished a highly respectable 11th in the Downhill.

"I couldn't have predicted that I would win the Super-G, despite knowing that I could be a contender in both the Slalom and Combined; the Super-G was a big bonus," says Kostelic. Starting third, Kostelic's time of 1:17.33 on the Streifalm withstood the test of 58 more racers, eventually holding up for victory by 0.23 seconds. "If you could win anywhere for the first time in a speed event, you want it to be in Kitzbühel. I'm very proud of that."

Racers inspecting the piste, Photo by: Rolex /Kurt Arrigo

This three-day performance in Kitzbühel was the catalyst which propelled him to his first career overall Alpine World Cup title. Demonstrating trademark technical proficiency and a steady, workman-like determination, Kostelic ran off a string of seven World Cup victories in just 29 days in January 2011, the fifth and sixth in Kitzbühel. The chase for the title was never close again.

In spite of his success at Kitzbühel, a Slalom triumph on the Ganslern course has eluded the two-time World Cup Slalom champion who has 14 career victories and an Olympic silver medal in the sport's most technical of disciplines. Ahead of this weekend, Kostelic will likely consult with his sister, Janica - the three-time overall women's World Cup champion - on what might be the ideal recipe to finally win the Slalom title. "I believe in her judgement and every time I have a doubt about something I ask her," he says.

Perhaps the hallowed ski-racing venue nestled in the Tyrolean Alps will prove to be sacred ground for the determined Croatian once again as he seeks a second consecutive overall title.

For detailed information about the 72nd Hahnenkamm-Races including entrants and results please visit the event website:

Kitzbuehel, Austria, January 17, 2012


изпрати на приятел Printer friendly версия  

Hahnenkamm-Races: The Sun Shines On The Streif – 18 Януари 2012 - 15:31
Сняг в Сахара, преспи в Турция – 19 Януари 2012 - 09:10
Hahnenkamm-Races: Snow News, But Not No News – 20 Януари 2012 - 11:15
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Gage Ferguson, 8, unveiled as Spence's head sponsor – 16 Януари 2012 - 12:22
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