Reichelt claims 2nd straight World Cup downhill victory
KVITFJELL, Norway (AP) Hannes Reichelt claimed his second straight World Cup downhill victory on Saturday, cutting the gap on discipline leader Kjetil Jansrud to just 20 points going into the final race of the season.
Reichelt, the super-G world champion, went down the shortened Olympiabakken course in 1 minute, 29.65 seconds to beat Manuel Osborne-Paradis of Canada by 0.30 seconds and Werner Heel of Italy by 0.38 for his third victory of the season.
Thick fog forced the start to be brought down to the super-G start for the second weekend in a row, and organizers had to salt the course to ensure even conditions due to sudden warm temperatures.
''I had my doubts on whether I could manage it because I like it a little harder,'' Reichelt said of the soft snow. ''It felt a bit like the Austrian championships in spring.''
The in-form Austrian was also quickest in Thursday's opening training session and on all three days including training at Garmisch-Partenkirchen last weekend.
It was Reichelt's 11th career victory and third successive downhill podium finish. It also ensured that Austrian skiers have been triumphant in all five races since the world championships.
Osborne-Paradis' second place was the Canadian's best finish since the downhill on home snow at Lake Louise last November. He hadn't finished in the top 15 in downhill since.
''Pretty sweet way to end such a terrible season,'' Osborne-Paridis said.
Guillermo Fayed of France was fourth, 0.40 back, followed by world downhill champion Patrick Kueng of Switzerland and worlds silver medalist Travis Ganong of the United States.
Reichelt has 485 points ahead of the final downhill race at Meribel, France on March 18, putting pressure on Jansrud, who has 505 and would have claimed the discipline crystal globe on home snow with a victory.
''It is exciting. I hoped it would be a little less exciting but for everyone else it's exciting and that's a good thing,'' said Jansrud, who only finished seventh.
Two mistakes cost the Norwegian dearly as he finished 0.54 off the pace.
''Not a downhill I hoped for, for sure, but I think I skied pretty well actually. I was a little surprised coming down and being behind and, well, yeah, it doesn't really flow as good as it used to,'' the home favorite said.
Reichelt was happy to prolong the suspense.
''It's good the (title) race is still on so there is still some action at the end and everything's not already decided,'' said the 34-year-old Austrian, who is looking for his first downhill title. ''The crystal globe is a big goal of mine.''
Jansrud, who is looking for his first title in any discipline, also missed the chance to make up significant ground on Marcel Hirscher of Austria in the overall standings. Hirscher, a technical specialist, doesn't race downhill and leads by 152 points ahead of Sunday's super-G.
''Why I can't be faster, I don't know, but we'll do some analysis and have to reset for tomorrow,'' said Jansrud, who leads the leads the super-G standings by 73 points from Dominik Paris of Italy with two races to go.
Olympic downhill champion Matthias Mayer of Austria was 0.81 back in 18th, while Steven Nyman of the United States, who was quickest in the final training session Friday, finished 1.09 off the pace in 24th.
Better placed Americans were Andrew Weibrecht and Marco Sullivan, joint 11th with Austria's Vincent Kriechmayr, and Jared Goldberg in 14th.