Saturday, January 24, 2015

Kjetil Jansrud Wins Shortest-ever Hahnenkamm Race


The Kitzbühel downhill is considered the scariest downhill in the world, but that is only until the weather decides otherwise and forces the start to be lowered half the way down the famous Streif. After two perfect training runs, both starting at the very top of the dreaded Streif, race day unfortunatley turned out to be entirely different story. A grey sky and light snowfall all through the morning made most people in Kitzbühel this Saturday look up wondering if the weather would keep stable enough through the day for the race to happen smoothly.
Unfortunately it didn’t, and after postponing the original 11.45 CET start time to 12.15 first, than to 12.45 and a third time to 13.15, but realizing the tick fog lingering on the Hausberg section of the course had no intention of disappearing, a final call had to be made in order not to lose the race. It quickly became clear that the only way a downhill was going to happen today was if the start was moved lower than the fog. Today this meant going as low Seidelalm Jump and running a downhill approximately half the length of the regular one.
Despite the general disappointment due to the short downhill, todays race certainly didn't lack in excitement and in the end the winner was the same one as in both full-length training runs – Kjetil Jansrud! The Norwegian who is leading both the super-G and downhill season rankings was once again the man to beat on the Streif as he crossed the finish line a mere 0.02 seconds faster than yesterday’s super-G winner Dominik Paris. In third place, French Guillermo Fayed finished 0.21 seconds behind and earned his second career’s podium.
"We are tough guys and everyone wanted to start from the top as it makes a huge difference when the start is lowered. But this is not the first time this happens, races get lowered not only in Kitzbuehel and the most important thing in the end is that we did have a race and that safety came first", Jansrud said about the shortened course.
Instead of skiing two minutes down the Streif, skiers had to adapt to the new situation of a downhill shorter than one minute and Jansrud explained how this takes some mental preparation.
"Kitz is a lot about mental readiness. You don’t want to waste energy when start is being delayed and that’s why I tried to rest and not be ‘on’ all the time. Than after learning that the start was going to be lowered I was able to change my mindset and attack the short course. I had a good run and finally some hundreds on my side of the table. A race is a race and I’m happy I won this one and hope in the future I can win a full length one too", Jansrud said at the Press Conference.
Paris was a bit slow finding his speed and was already 0.25 seconds behind Jansrud at the first intermediate but made up some time in the middle section of the course only to lose it again at the very end and finishing just behind Jansrud. 
"Two wins would have been better than one for sure but today was not easy for me so a second place is quite a satisfaction", he said. "I love Kitzbühel, I love this slope and it has been two amazing days so I am really happy with what I’m walking away with", Paris said.
Over the course of this season, Fayed has quickly risen to the "one to watch" status as with the consistency shown so far he is currently sitting in third place in the downhill standings.
"It’s a very good season for me so far, it’s almost incredible as I still struggle to understand why", Fayed said.
Jansrud was quick to offer an answer: " I’ll tell you why, because you have been skiing really well!", he said and made the whole room at the press conference burst out laughing.
"This is the biggest race of the year and so many people show up to watch. To be on the podium here is so special", Fayed said.

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