Marco Odermatt clocked the best time in Lake Louise on Thursday in final training for the first World Cup men’s downhill of the season. The Swiss crossed the finish line in 1:26.52 minutes on a shortened route due to the wind, Aleksander Aamodt Kilde was second (+0.09). The best Austrian was Matthias Mayer in fifth place, immediately ahead of Otmar Striedinger, both of whom were six tenths behind the Swiss.
Vincent Kriechmayr was seventh, three hundredths behind Striedinger, Julian Schütter was eleventh with the number 69 car. Daniel Hemetsberger, who was fourth on Wednesday but only drove at full speed in the upper part, took a step back. On Friday (8.30 p.m./live ORF 2) the speed competitions begin, the ÖSV men are just as excited about the start of the season as the competition. “As expected, the track has developed very well. It’s really crisp, there’s a lot of water in it and it’s now as demanding as we expected,” stated world champion Kriechmayr. Even after looking at the training result, the “Sportsman of the Year” 2021 said: “They ski very solidly, they haven’t forgotten it. I think the usual names will be up front and I hope I can put in a good performance.” His personal goal? Driving in the front “would be desirable, but nothing is given for free.” The announced snowfall for the race day is less of a problem. “I tend to think that the wind could be a problem, but I’m confident that we’ll have a decent descent there tomorrow.” The three-time Olympic champion Matthias Mayer was also happy about the much better slope compared to Tuesday. “It’s tough, sometimes a bit icy, just like we want it to be. It’s always great to be there. Lake Louise is the descent with the highest average speed over the whole year,” the Carinthian knew. “It’s always a challenge to start down there at the beginning of the season.” For Mayer, Odermatt has “taken another step forward again” in the downhill, Kilde is back in his old form. “It will probably be a close race.” The new start rule, which is intended to make races fairer, is now being used for the first time. The top ten of the “World Cup Starting List” (WCSL) draw starting numbers from 6 to 15. Whoever is placed between 11 and 20 in the ranking also receives the numbers 1 to 5 and 16 to 20 by lot. Until the end of the past season the top ten in the world rankings were allowed to choose odd numbers from 1 to 19. Kriechmayr is “fundamentally irrelevant” about the rule, but: “I hope that for certain races where a number can be an advantage, it doesn’t have too much influence. The man from Linz named Wengen as an example. “If you fight for the downhill ball and have number 6 or number 15 in Wengen, there’s a big difference.” In Wengen, the top numbers are often preferred. “Basically, the best will prevail throughout the year.” Mayer also saw advantages. “It’s not a big change for us. You don’t have to skirmish the day before, the field of top athletes is probably more compact, that’s a difference. There will certainly be one or two races where the starting rule will be advantageous or maybe even a bit of a disadvantage.” On Thursday, Hemetsberger only showed the full bite at the top. “We still have three races here. I went full throttle at the top, whether I still squat for the last 20 seconds is irrelevant.” Striedinger is looking forward to “finally getting started”: “Everyone is excited for the first race.” The weather on Friday wasn’t so good announced, but: “We downhillers are used to having to wait,” Striedinger takes it with humor. He sees a fairness advantage in the start number rule change. “I think the rule is better because the top riders can’t choose their number. For me, it’s about getting into the first group as quickly as possible.” “When they’ve seen enough football games, they should switch over. We will not win the World Cup in Qatar.”