Matthias Mayer added a World Cup win to his credits this season as the Olympic Champion won the last World Cup race of the season. In perfect conditions the top five racers were separated by just two tens of a second. Mayer took top step on the podium … while runners up spot was shared by Christof Innerhofer and Ted Ligety. Peter Fill took fourth spot with Aksel Lund Svindal taking fifth place to move back into the lead of the Overall World Cup. Svindal had already tied down the Downhill Globe for this season.
Ligety was the first to nail his intentions to the mast as he destroyed the course time set by Otmar Striedinger. While Striedinger was later disqualified for a technical infringement, Ligety enjoys skiing the Lenzerheide track as it suits his style of racing: there are few straights, lots of big turns and this suits his style. Before getting this result, Ligety’s best result in Downhill had been scored at Lenzerheide, a fourth in 2007.Â In taking second place, Ligety scored his best downhill result on the World Cup. The course with its long sweeping turns and technical requirements suited the American and he was the first of the small field for the final race to really take it to the limit. Second place keeps him in the hunt for the Overall. â€œTo be on the podium in every single event now in my career is a pretty cool accomplishment,â€ said Ligety. Lenzerheide, he added, is one of the downhill courses he will always enter.Â
Christof Innerhofer looked like he was on his way to posting a faster time than Ligety until he made a huge error half way down and scrubbed all his speed. In the end he was lucky to match Ligety but with lots of the top racers still to come, Innerhofer and Ligety must have felt that they would not be in the winners enclosure for long.
The Lenzerheide track was in almost perfect condition after the weather played ball: It was cold the night before and this meant that the track was hard. While it stayed hard in the perfect sunlight, it also had a lot of small ruts that formed and these started to upset the rhythm of the racers. A number of racer were lucky to stay on the course as their skis had minds of their own. Georg Streitberger, winner in Kvitfjell, was lucky to escape a huge side ways roll flip that was more akin to Freestyle that Downhill and almost saw him recover on his skis. He was able to joke about his ripped number in the finish being the only damage!
While Mayer came down after Innerhofer, just outside the top seeds, he was smooth at the top and then through the crucial middle section, the Olympic Champion was in a class of his own and when he came round the last corner into the finish, he saw the green light that said he was in the lead.
â€œIt really means a lot of me to win today. Iâ€™ve had some good races in the last few weeks and its nice to get another downhill victory today,â€ Mayer said of his win. â€œIt was difficult, we only had one training run yesterday and everyone made some mistakes there so it was wide open for todayâ€™s race. Today I had good skiing in the bottom section which I think made the difference.â€
With the race for the Overall tight, Svindal was looking to score big points but a small mistake at the top cost him and although he was just two tenths off the win, he was down in fifth spot. This was enough to retake the lead in the Overall with three racers left of the World Cup season. â€œFor a downhill skier this globe is one of the big globes. Getting it here in front of a nice crowd like this feels really, really good,â€ said Svindal after the race.
With victory in the Downhill World Cup, this was Aksel Lund Svindalâ€™s ninth small Globe and eleventh in all.
Next up Super G, something that Svindal has already wrapped up but he will be hoping to score big points in the race for the Overall.
Picture: The 2014 Downhill FIS Audi Alpine World Cup Champion – Aksel Lund Svindal. Picture credit ZOOM AGENCE