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 . world ski news
15 December 2011 - 16:04
Hans Olsson fastest two days in a row in Val Gardena
Courchevel Ladies` program changed
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ALPINE SKI. VAL GARDENA, Italy- On Thursday’s second and last Downhill training in Val Gardena, Hans Olsson was unbeatable once again. With a time of 1 minute, 57.48 seconds he left second ranked Klaus Kroell 1.22 seconds behind and was 1.77 seconds ahead of third ranked Tobias Stechert from Germany.

Olsson seemed really confident already in the first training, but today he was able to take full advantage of the good course conditions. He charged all the way down, achieving an impressive time and leaving everyone else far behind.

A clean and hard surface made the slope over three seconds faster than Wednesday for Olsson, and he got really close to the time set by last year’s winner. Silvan Zurbriggen won the 2010 Downhill with a time of 1 minute 57.21 seconds, which is just .27 seconds faster than the time set by Olsson on today’s training.

The Saslong is a 3446 meters long course, with an 839-meter vertical drop and lots of terrain. The famous 12 “humps” give skiers quite a bit of time in the air and make this course really exciting both for the skiers and for those watching.

An established speed specialist having already reached two World Cup podiums in downhill -  in 2009 at Are and Lake Louise -  Olsson is actually 31st in the FIS downhill World Cup Start-Lists standings – but allowed to start within the best 30 as Austria’s now retired speed icon Michael Walchhofer, ‘officially’ 3rd in this ranking, is enjoying life at home in Zauchensee with his family.

Interestingly enough, Sweden is the only country within the list of the top-10 ski nations on the World Cup tour to have never celebrated a single victory in a men downhill. At the 2007 FIS Worlds at Are, Worlds Cup veteran Patrick Jaerbyn achieved a smashing performance clinching a historical bronze medal in downhill behind Norway’s Svindal and Canada’s Hudec, but so far Anja Paerson is the only active Swede to have excelled in women downhill racing. In the 1990s Pernilla Wiberg became the first Swede to accomplish that feat in World Cup racing.

“I was really going for it,” said Olsson who was 7th here a year ago. “Today it was so much faster and I didn’t have any problems along the way. Yet, I don’t really understand why I have been so fast today and yesterday, I’m pretty surprised. For sure people consider me now as the favorite, but I don’t share this. Of course it’s exciting to see that I have been so consistent two days in a row, and I know I can ski fast here, but the race takes place on Saturday. We’ll see how things will turn out for me and the other favorites.”

Although no man wants to be called a girl, comparing Olsson to Lindsey Vonn (who won with a 1.95 seconds margin just weeks ago in Lake Louise) was the way sixth ranked Jan Hudec complimented Olsson.

“It feels like the Downhill race in Lake Louise which Vonn won with a huge margin, I should go over for some tips,” Hudec who was just over two slower than Olsson said.

After being forced to stop due to a yellow flag during the first training run, Klaus Kroell did a great job in the second training.

“I still managed to make some good training on the bottom section, and after 10 years in the World Cup I know the slope and I know those things can happen so it doesn’t really matter. I made up for it today,” Kroell said. “Olsson had a very good run, I watched him from the start, he managed to be smooth and carry some good speed all the way through the course. I think he is our man to catch. I have to study the video to see where I could make up some time. I made some mistakes, maybe wasn’t as compact as I should have been. But, that’s not where I lost that second. Let’s hope for some good weather on Saturday and I’ll try to make that difference closer.”

He might not be one of the names you expect to see on top of the leader board, but after his fourth place in the first training, Stechert’s performance in the second one was not so surprising anymore.

“Yesterday I crossed the finish line and couldn’t really believe I did such a great job. But today, after making a small mistake already on top, I knew I had to work hard on the rest of the course if I wanted a good result,” Stechert said. A third place with bib 32 definitely counts as a good run.

Johan Clarey, the only skier who crashed in the first training, and who’s crash called for the yellow flag forcing Kroell to stop half way into his run on Wednesday, gained back some confidence with a 13th place finish in the second training.

“I was a bit worried today, I crashed last year in the race as well so I just wanted to finally make it down. I was really pleased to realize that nothing hurt this morning. Every time you crash in Downhill and manage to get up unhurt you should be happy, so today was a good day for me,” Clarey said after finally crossing the finish line without any problems.

The recent winners at Lake Louise, Didier Cuche, and Beaver Creek, Bode Miller, ended in 8th and 16th position way behind Hans Olsson, while Zurbriggen was a distant 34th  more than four seconds from the Scandinavian leader.

Surprises often occurred at Val Gardena since the first World Cup race took place there in January 1969 – starting with the very surprising victory of Switzerland’s future superstar Bernhard Russi at the 1970 FIS World Championships with bib 15. Australia’s Malcom Milne came in a strong 3rd in that medal event a few weeks after his maiden win at Val d’Isère!

In recent years, Markus Foser from Liechtenstein won the 1993 downhill race with bib 66 – a record ! Max Rauffer also surprised many experts with his triumph in 2004 as did Steven Nyman two years later.

Weather had once again a big impact on the flow of the second Downhill training. Fog kept rolling in and out the top section of the course, forcing organizers to call various start stop after 40 racers. But, if weather decides to cooperate from tomorrow on, we are in for two exciting speed races. A SG is scheduled for Friday while the Downhill race will take place on Saturday.

by Ana Jelusic
FISalpine.com
Thursday 15 December 2011

Courchevel Ladies' program changed

Due to a forecast with heavy snowfall for next few days in the French Alps, the ladies' Audi FIS Ski World Cup program in Courchevel (FRA) has been changed: the ladies will be racing the slalom now on Saturday 17 December, and the giant slalom on Sunday 18 December. The starting times remain unchanged: Saturday's slalom first run will commence at 10:15 and the second run at 13:30. On Sunday, the first run is already at 9:30 and the second run at 12:30 CET.

Europe is finally looking much wintrier after moderate to large snowfalls since the start of December. Up to 1.5 meters of snow has fallen in parts of the Alps over the last week and most Scandinavian resorts have had big falls too. For the next 24hr from Thursday night until Friday night, the forecast is for more than 60 cm of new snow at Courchevel. Only moderate to light snowfall is foreseen for Saturday.

FISalpine.com
Thursday 15 December 2011


 
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Next:
Coming up: ladies` tech block – 16 December 2011 - 08:47
Beat Feuz takes home his first career victory in Super G – 16 December 2011 - 15:33
Ski Jumping Training and qualification in Engelberg cancelled due to the strong wind – 16 December 2011 - 21:19
Alpine Skiing at 1000 fps - Red Bull Moments with Lindsey Vonn – 16 December 2011 - 23:33
Ladies slalom in Courchevel cancelled for Saturday – 17 December 2011 - 11:56

Previous:
Olympians count down to Innsbruck 2012 – 15 December 2011 - 09:06
Hans Olsson enjoys a ride to the top in the first Downhill training in Val Gardena – 14 December 2011 - 22:55
Norway Prime Minister celebrates Amundsen with South Pole ski – 12 December 2011 - 13:03
Alexey Petukhov storms to sprint victory in Davos – 11 December 2011 - 18:11
Historic victory for Freitag in Harrachov, Czech Republic – 11 December 2011 - 17:54

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