Austrian Reichelt wins home downhill race
Austrian Hannes Reichelt made up for teammate Marcel Hirscher’s disappointing slalom with victory in the famed World Cup downhill in Kitzbuehel on Saturday.
Starting with bib number 22, the 33-year-old Reichelt stormed down the 3.4km-long course on the Hahnenkamm mountain to clock 2min 03.38sec despite suffering from back pain to end an eight-year Austrian drought in the event.
“For an Austrian ski racer to win in Kitzbuehel is a dream,” said Reichelt.
“When you’re a child you watch the races and dream of (winning) them. Now that dream has come true.”
In a dramatic day of racing in front of a huge crowd, Norway’s reigning world downhill champion Aksel Lund Svindal finished second (2:03.59) with American star Bode Miller (2:03.72) third.
“2nd place Kitzbuehel downhill. I’ll take it!!” tweeted Svindal.
“I knew that my run was good but there were a few sections that were not good enough. I had a feeling someone would take it.”
Miller was also left rueing a big mistake on the testing Streif.
“After the training run the other day, when I skied really well, I think I’ve been progressing through the season, coming back from a year away, this is what I’d been gearing up for,” the 36-year-old said.
“After making it through the top… I made a stupid mistake.
“I had to bring it back to finish the course.”
Reichelt’s sole previous downhill win came in the Italian resort of Bormio last year, and the victory was his seventh of his career on the World Cup circuit.
Under the watchful eye of Austria’s favourite son Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former Mr Universe, action-film actor and governor of California, it was the perfect riposte after Hirscher saw his slalom hopes go up in smoke on Friday.
Importantly, Svindal’s second placing saw him increase his lead in the World Cup overall standings to 102 points over Hirscher, with a super-G and super-combined scheduled for Sunday.