Kilde wins Kitzbuehel for 5th downhill victory of season

Sports

KITZBUEHEL, Austria (AP) — Aleksander Aamodt Kilde won the second men’s World Cup downhill on the Streif course Saturday, a day after the Norwegian narrowly avoided a high-speed crash on the challenging slope.

The victory made Kilde the first male skier to win five downhills in a single season since Austrian standout Stephan Eberharter won seven times in the 2001-02 campaign.

With his right hand bandaged after fracturing a bone during Thursday’s training, Kilde then needed an acrobatic recovery in the race the next day to escape a fall near the end of his run.

But racing under low clouds and in light snowfall on Saturday, he sped down the 3.3-kilometer course with no apparent mistakes, winning the storied race for the second time in his career.

“That’s just Kitzbuehel. The weather is difficult, and the second training was not good, with the hand,” Kilde told Austrian broadcaster ORF.

“But today, I had a good feeling. I had no pain in my hand and gave full gas. I did everything I could do, I’m satisfied.”

Attended by 45,000 spectators, the downhill in the posh Austrian resort is the World Cup race with the highest prize money, paying 100,000 euros ($109,000) to the winner.

Kilde was joined on the podium by two racers who have announced their retirement for after the season: French veteran Johan Clarey finished 0.67 seconds behind, and American downhiller Travis Ganong trailed by 0.95 in third.

Mattia Casse of Italy was the only other racer to finish within a second of Kilde’s time. Friday’s winner Vincent Kriechmayr was 1.30 back in fifth.

Several lower-ranked skiers were yet to start.

It was Kilde’s seventh win overall this season, matching his total from last year, and again equaling the Norwegian’s best mark previously reached by Kjetil Jansrud in 2014-15 and Aksel Lund Svindal the following season.

Kilde still trails overall World Cup leader Marco Odermatt by 225 points. The Swiss skier sat out the race, resting after hurting his left knee in a near-crash in Friday’s downhill.

Ganong’s American teammate Jared Goldberg, who finished a career-best fourth on Friday, slid off the course into the safety netting. His race suit ripped open in the fall but Goldberg got up and skied down with no apparent injuries.

Olympic downhill champion Beat Feuz finished two seconds off the pace in 16th in what was the last race of his career. Feuz, who won three downhills in Kitzbuehel and 16 World Cup races in total, announced his retirement last December.

It was the last men’s World Cup downhill before the Feb. 12 world championship race in Courchevel, France.

The race weekend in Kitzbuehel ends with a slalom Sunday.

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