January 22, 2011
Kitzbuehel, Austria – Didier Cuche is a man among men. The 36 year old Swiss won the most celebrated ski race for the fourth time Saturday (Jan.22) taking the Kitzbuehel downhill by nearly a second, denying America's Bode Miller the one prize he has yet to claim, that of Hahnenkamm champion.
Adrien Theaux was third earning the first Kitzbuehel downhill podium for a french male in 13 years.
Kitzbuehel's Streif course upheld its reputation as a savage course. It had put Austrian Hans Grugger in hospital and an induced coma from a training crash and six men failed to complete the race, including World Cup standings leader Michael Walchhofer and Canadian Manuel Osborne-Paradis. On a circuit where the start list normally runs in the 70's, just 55 even attempted the challenge.
Cuche not only accepted the task, he attacked the length of the bone rattling Streif for his first win of the season, gaining some redemption for finishing second last week in Wengen's Lauberhorn downhill. He knew as soon as he finished he had put down a world class run. The win matches him with Franz Klammer and Karl Schranz with four DH wins at Kitzbuehel and makes him the oldest racer to win a World Cup race. More importantly to this season, it put him in the lead of the DH standings, moving past Walchhofer and Silvan Zurbriggen.
It was bittersweet for Miller. Despite drawing up easily his best skiing of the season in the one race he needs to flesh out a stunning resume' he was no match for Cuche. But then, no one else was either.
Bode Miller"I didn't take as much risk as he did for sure," said Miller. "He (Cuche) has this course pretty well figured out. He's won here a few times and he takes risks in just the right spots."
"The skis were like rockets," Cuche told Patrick Lang. "It could easily have gone wrong."
He said he was honored to be on the same list as Klammer and Schranz, but said he would have to do "lots more to be considered their equal."
Though Miller doesn't focus on wins and statistics, he did admit this race is one he would like to win. "I was happy when I came across the finish line. I thought I had skied a good race. When this course is as difficult as it is this year more risks tends to lead to making more mistakes and more risk of death or serious injury."
Miller gave Cuche all the credit he could. "You just more or less have to take your hat off. You know you skied a great race and the other person just took more risk, executed better and probably had faster skis. ... I was happy with my race."
The result mirrored 2008 when Cuche also won and Miller was second.
The Austrians missed the podium of their marquee race for the second straight year, perhaps a bit tentative after their teammate's threatening crash in training. Mario Scheiber was fourth with Klaus Kroell, Romed Baumann and Georg Streitberger finishing nine-ten-eleven respectively.
Most disappointing, though, was Walchhofer's DNF and a relatively flat and easy portion of the course. "It was a beginner's fault," he said.
World Cup leader Ivica Kostelic, discovering his speed aptitude at Kitzbuehel with Friday's super G win, tied for 11th to put more room between he and standings leader Aksel Lund Svindal who finished 17th.
Beyond Miller the U.S. group had Ted Ligety adding speed to his repertoire in 27th place while Travis Ganong posted 28th.
Erik Guay led the Candians in 16th while Ben Thomsen got his second career scoring result in 26th.
Audi FIS Alpine World Cup
Kitzbuehel, Austria – Jan. 22, 2011
1. Didier Cuche, Switzerland, 1:57.72
2. Bode Miller, Franconia, NH, 1:58.70
3. Adrien Theaux, France, 1:58.90
27. Ted Ligety, Park City, UT, 2:01.39
28. Travis Ganong, Squaw Valley, CA, 2:01.51
36. Steven Nyman, Sundance, UT, 2:02.53