SELVA DI VAL GARDENA, Italy (AP)Norwegian skier Aleksander Aamodt Kilde returned to the top of a men’s World Cup downhill podium on Saturday, two days after finishing fifth in a shortened race at the same resort.
Kilde dominated the full version of the classic race on the challenging Saslong for his third win from four downhills this season.
Kilde’s powerful run saw him beat French veteran Johan Clarey by 0.35 seconds. Mattia Casse came a surprise third, 0.42 behind, in the Italian’s first career podium.
”It’s been a thrilling day,” Kilde said. ”Amazing to be in Val Gardena, as always, the crowd from top to bottom just shouting at you. It’s just an amazing feeling crossing the finish line, especially with green numbers.”
Overall World Cup leader Marco Odermatt missed the podium for the first time in 12 races, as the Swiss allrounder trailed Kilde by 0.92 and shared seventh place with Travis Ganong, the top American finisher.
”Every series has to end. I expected it would end two days ago already,” said Odermatt, whose podium streak had started in March 2022.
Odermatt maintained a clear lead in the overall standings with 636 points, 111 ahead of Kilde. Kilde leads Odermatt by 89 points in the season’s downhill standings. Odermatt won the overall title last season, Kilde the downhill title.
Changing weather conditions enabled lower-ranked skiers to grab a top result, most notably two French skiers. Cyprien Sarrazin, who started 61st, finished ahead of Odermatt in sixth place, while Adrien Theaux wore bib 32 and placed fourth.
His ninth career downhill win put Kilde in outright third position among Norwegian skiers, surpassing Kjetil Jansrud, who retired last season. Aksel Lund Svindal with 14 wins and Lasse Kjus with 10 are the country’s most successful downhillers.
Runner-up Clarey, who turns 42 next month, already was the oldest skier, male or female, to finish in the top three of a World Cup race.
”Being on the podium (at) 41 is amazing,” said Clarey, who was fourth in Thursday’s race. ”It’s a great weekend. Hopefully I can be as good as I am now in January, and in February in Courchevel,” added Clarey, referring to the 2023 world championships in France in February.
Ganong led a strong showing of the U.S. team, with Jared Goldberg in ninth and Sam Morse in 15th. Bryce Bennett, who won the race last year, was 23rd.
Vincent Kriechmayr won the shortened downhill on the Saslong on Thursday in a race that had been postponed from Beaver Creek, Colorado.
Over the full distance on Saturday, the 2021 world champion from Austria finished 1.95 behind and outside the points in 32nd.
A super-G slated for Friday in Val Gardena was canceled due to a mixture of fog, rain and warm temperatures.
The men’s World Cup travels to nearby Alta Badia for two giant slaloms on Sunday and Monday.
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