Saturday, January 23, 2016

Peter Fill Wins Hahnenkamm Downhill

Italian Peter Fill won the famous Streif downhill in Kitzbühel (AUT) on a race day that pushed everyone to their limits. Switzerland found its speed power again as Beat Feuz and Carlo Janka finished in second and third place.

Morning cloud cover and wind gusts initially forced race organizers to lower the downhill start to just above the Mausefalle, about 100 meters below the original start house following inspection, as well as push back the start time by one hour. Still, crashes ensued on the formidable track. After Austria’s Vincent Kriechmayr crossed the finish wearing bib 30, FIS officials made the decision to end the race due to worsening visibility, giving the 2016 Hahnenkamm downhill title to Fill, with a pair of Swiss in second and third as Beat Feuz and Carlo Janka finished 0.37 and 0.65 seconds back, respectively
The win is only the 35-year-old Italian’s second World Cup victory after his maiden win all the way back in 2008 at Lake Louise. Nevertheless, a win is a win on the World Cup regardless of the circumstances.
"This year is a great season for me, I was every time fast", Fill explained after the race. "I was in all the trainings fast on all the slopes. I was fast in Val Gardena this year, that’s not normal for me, and now I win here, it’s perfect. That was my goal; to win or go fast in Wengen or here, and now I win here, that’s a dream come true".
Several pre-race favorites spectacularly crashed out in the Hausberg section of the course as Austrians Georg Streitberger and Hannes Reichelt as well as Norwegian Aksel Lund Svindal found themselves in the net, with both of the Austrians having to be airlifted off of the hill.
Initial reports indicate that Streitberger suffered a torn ACL and meniscus, effectively ending his season. Reichelt sustained a severe bone bruise to his left leg and is expected to miss the next 2-3 weeks. But the biggest loss of all is overall tour leader Svindal who was also diagnosed with a torn ACL in his right knee and is expected to miss a year of competition as a result of his crash.
"You always have to push your limits in Kitzbuehel",  Fill said. "I crashed here three years ago. Sometimes you finish and sometimes you don’t. It’s part of ski racing and something we all accept with any race we start. I hope the three guys will be back on tour quickly. You never want to see this happen, but unfortunately, some days it does".
Beat Feuz has seen a return to form this year after several seasons of injury struggles, but his happiness with today’s result was somewhat dampened by the events of the day.
"It’s always really hard to watch your fellow racers crash, and it definitely was a shadow on the day", said Feuz. "On one hand, I’m happy with my podium result and to be back among the top racers, but it’s not a big celebration feeling right now".
For Carlo Janka, who has also struggled with various ailments in recent seasons, his podium was certainly a welcome one given the circumstances.
"It was really tough conditions here in Kitzbuehel, three big crashes and I hope those guys are not injured too much", he said. "It’s one legendary Kitzbuehel day again. It’s history, and I’m pretty happy with my run and I hope I can go on like this".
"The course was in decent shape when I went down", continued Janka. "But the light was really tricky today and I think that caused a lot of the guys problems".

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