Patrick Kueng was talking with the group of past winners from Switzerland in Wengen and Beat Feuz, winner in 2012, told him that he would join the roll of honour in winning the 2014 race as they waited for the start to be lowered. With high winds and poor race conditions the race organisers … only had one option and that was to lower the start so that the race was fair for all, the end decision was to lower it to below the iconic Hundschoppf jump, just above Canadian corner. From being the longest World Cup course, the 2014 Lauberhorn Downhill suddenly became one of the shortest on the World Cup. This did not stop the excitement as Kueng took the win by six hundredths from Hannes Reichelt with World Cup Downhill leader a hundredth further back. In a race that was decided by such a small margin, the top 16 finishers were all within a second of the winner and 30th spot was just 1.51 back! This was a race that if you blinked you lost out! This was high stakes poker!
Matthias Mayer, going 2, showed his hand and had it not been for a slightly unclean final couple of turns, he felt that he could have been challenging for the podium. Mayer was not the only racer to feel that had he not made a mistake at the bottom, things could have been better.
Bode Miller, going 8, had looked at the wind as he prepared in the start and noted that the flags going along the side of the slope at the start were still, for a few racers before him, they had been fluttering strongly giving the racers a strong tail wind. With a deficit of over half a second by the first split and then leading by the second split, Miller was on fire and charging. Coming through the final turns, a mistake scrubbed speed but he was still in the lead at that moment.
Max Franz dislodged him and then Kueng came down and stole the show taking the lead from Franz by just under a quarter of a second. Svindal is one of the nicest guys you can meet and while he has no worries with any number he is dealt with, he did admit that the way the start numbers are decided at the moment did not make it very interesting for the public. Svindal feels that racers should be allowed to choose their number in relation to their World ranking. This would certainly make it more interesting for the crowd and could be an event in itself, Svindal believes. It would also put a lot of attention on the choice of the racers, especially if they did badly!
So while Svindal was fast and in touch and at times was matching the time set by Kueng, seven hundredths separated the two at the finish. Erik Guay, winner of the second training run suffered a moment of awkwardness as he crashed out through the Super G turns and from then on it was every racer for themselves. Clarey had been going fast in the same section before he lost a lot of speed and then fell out of contention.
Nearing the end of the top seeds, Hannes Reichelt was toying with the leaders, just in touch and then when he crossed the line, it was into second and a hundredth ahead of Svindal. Come the end of the season, how valuable will that position be! It has cost Svindal 20 points in the race for the overall but that is something Svindal feels balances out at the end of his career. After the race, Svindal explained that it is the media that stops himm forgetting about the race for the overall, he just takes it day by day!
So Kueng provides the Swiss with the win, two years after Feuz won. Feuz today was down in 10th spot. He was one of the racers to benefit from the shortened race as it helped his legs as they are still working their way back to full fitness.
Sadly there was no joy for Dougie Crawford as he misjudged his line coming into the final turns and it bounced him off the line and out of the race.
Kueng dreamed as a young racer of first just racing in Wengen and then winning the race: Dreams do come true if you work hard enough! Svindal also now has his Wengen podium!