WENGEN, SWITZERLAND – Patrick Kueng gave his home Swiss fans a lot to cheer about by winning the shortened Lauberhorn downhill Saturday.
Kueng clocked 1 minute, 32.66 seconds down a course that had more than a minute of racing and signature features cut off due to strong winds, to earn his second World Cup victory — and first in downhill.
Hannes Reichelt of Austria finished second, 0.06 seconds behind, and overall World Cup leader Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway was third, only 0.01 seconds further behind.
“It’s incredible,” said Kueng, who is the fourth different Swiss winner in six years in the country’s signature sports event. “It’s very special for me. I think it’s the best place to win a race.”
Reichelt said he lost crucial time in the bumpy s-turns into the finish area, though praised Kueng as a worthy winner.
“(Patrick) was very consistent this season. It was just time until he got the victory,” said Reichelt, adding wryly that he was “getting closer” after placing third last year
Bode Miller finished fifth, 0.35 back, after making a big mistake in the same spot that troubled Reichelt. Miller’s American teammate Jared Goldberg placed 12th with a starting number of 40. Lower-ranked skiers were still coming down.
Kueng joined a Wengen winner’s roll that includes his more heralded teammates Didier Defago (2009), Carlo Janka (2010) and Beat Feuz (2012).
Kueng, who turned 30 last weekend, is having a breakout season. He won a super-G in Beaver Creek, Colorado, last month for his first career win and has also recorded two fifths — in the Lake Louise, Alberta, super-G; and the Beaver Creek downhill; and was sixth in the downhill in Val Gardena, Italy.
“Hats off to Kueng, he’s been skiing amazing this season. It’s really not a surprise to the racers,” said Marco Sullivan of the U.S., who was 16th trailing by 0.99.
The course missed top sections — including the signature Hundschopf cliff face jump — that usually favor pure downhill racers, and became more suited to technical, super-G specialists.
Erik Guay of Canada, who won the final training session Thursday, lost control after appearing to hit a bump midway down and skied off course.
Svindal now leads two-time defending champion Marcel Hirscher by 82 points in the overall standings. In the downhill rankings, Svindal leads with 360 points, Reichelt is next with 260 and Kueng is third with 221.
A slalom is scheduled for Wengen on Sunday, then the men’s circuit heads to Kitzbuehel, Austria, for the famed Hahnenkamm races next weekend.
Women’s race delayed
Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy
The women’s downhill at Cortina was canceled on Saturday due to adverse weather and soft snow conditions, said the International Ski Federation (FIS).
Local organizers had been battling with incessant snowfall in the Italian Dolomites resort since Friday, when a second, scheduled training run for the World Cup event was canceled.
The plan is to now try and stage the downhill on Sunday, when a women’s super-G was initially scheduled.
A statement from FIS said: “Due to adverse weather forecast combined with soft snow conditions, today’s downhill in Cortina is canceled.
“The plan is to reschedule the Cortina downhill for tomorrow (Sunday) at 11:30 CET instead of the super-G race originally planned.”