Kroell edges veteran Cuche in a classic downhill battle
Klaus Kroell of Austria defeated Swiss veteran Didier Cuche to win the classic World Cup downhill race yesterday on the Lauberhorn in Wengen, Switzerland. American Bode Miller was eighth.
Kroell finished in 2 minutes 31.28 seconds on the tour’s longest track, edging Cuche by 0.14 seconds.
Carlo Janka, the defending Lauberhorn champion from Switzerland, was third.
“It’s every downhiller’s dream to win a classic like Wengen,’’ said Kroell, who earned his third career World Cup win and second in downhill.
Cuche, 36, has finished runner-up three times in the prestigious race. He was second behind Miller in 2007 and ’08.
The popular racer responded to cheers in his home race by bowing theatrically and blowing kisses to fans on all sides.
“I’m very satisfied,’’ said Cuche, a three-time World Cup downhill champion. “Wengen is never easy, and you have to be happy with a good performance.’’
Cuche lost time at halfway after passing through the railway bridge tunnel. His right ski appeared to catch an edge and he briefly lost his racing line.
Austria got its third win in four men’s downhill races after being shut out last season.
Michael Walchhofer — who won at Lake Louise, Canada, and Bormio, Italy — finished 11th to keep the lead in the discipline standings. He has 269 points, 19 more than Silvan Zurbriggen of Switzerland. Kroell moved into third, 79 points back.
Wiley Maple, the 20-year-old from Aspen, Colo., made his elite-level debut finishing the 2.75-mile course in 2:38.57, good for 42d place.
Two days before Christmas, he was told to prepare for ski-loving Switzerland’s signature sports event.
“The crowds here are insane and the visual is pretty beautiful up here. I didn’t know people were that psyched about skiing,’’ said Maple.
“It’s definitely gnarlier and longer than it looks on TV.’’
Women’s giant slalom — The women’s World Cup race in Maribor, Slovenia, was canceled after 25 racers because of warm weather that caused poor course conditions.
Temperatures were nearly 60 degrees, which softened the snow over the past few days. Course workers tried to harden it by injecting water and chemicals, but the condition of the slope worsened during the race.
It was not immediately clear when or where the race could be rescheduled.
Ski jumping — Germany’s Severin Freund edged overall leader Thomas Morgenstern in Sapporo, Japan, to earn his first World Cup victory of the season.
Freund combined jumps of 124 and 129 meters for a total of 249.6 points, 1.4 ahead of Austria’s Morgenstern, who had two jumps of 124.5 meters.
Poland’s Adam Malysz had the day’s longest jump of 132.5 meters on his first try and finished third with 240.5 points after a second jump of 118 meters.
Freestyle skiing — Canadians Alexandre Bilodeau and Justine Dufour-Lapointe swept the dual moguls events in a World Cup event in Mont-Gabriel, Quebec.
Bilodeau, the Olympic champion from Montreal, won for her first World Cup event.
Canada’s Mikael Kingsbury was second and France’s Juilbaut Colas finished third.