Switzerland's Beat Feuz claimed his first downhill win in Kitzbühel, and his 11th career Alpine Ski World Cup downhill triumph, on Friday (22 January) after four previous second-place finishes on the Hahnenkamm mountain.
On a sunny – albeit partially cloudy – and relatively warm day, with temperatures pushing above four degrees Celsius impacting the snow condition, Feuz put in a storming run that for a while looked like it might threaten the course record set by Fritz Strobl in 1997.
The Swiss clocked the quickest time on the full-length 3.312-km Streif course, with his one minute, 53.77 seconds the fastest anyone has skied down the full course since his countryman Didier Cuche did it three-hundredths faster some 11 years ago.
He is the first Swiss man to win a World Cup race on the Streif since Cuche in 2012, although his win was overshadowed by a serious-looking crash for teammate Urs Kryenbühl.
Later race interruptions, for two crashes and then subsequently high winds, left Feuz's position in doubt as 30 skiers had to start for the race to count. But after four course holds, which lasted over an hour and 20 minutes in total between them, the 30th starter took to the course, confirming the results.
"It was a difficult race but of course it is a great joy for me, at Kitzbühel," Feuz told FIS afterwards. "Everyone on the podium skied very well today."
The race was eventually called after 30 racers, leaving Marco Odermatt – wearing bib number 31 – out of luck as he chases points for the overall World Cup standings.
There was no change at the top of the overall leaderboard, but Austria's Matthias Mayer took over the downhill red bib after finishing second.
Crashes and high winds
The race was overshadowed by two scary moments.
First, outside favourite Ryan Cochran-Siegle of the United States, who topped the time sheets in training on Wednesday, suffered a high-speed crash into the protective netting.
However, the 28-year-old quickly sat up, and was reported to have sustained only a shoulder injury. He was helicoptered off the mountain as a precaution after a delay of around 15 minutes.
A few racers later, Urs Kryenbühl landed badly on the final jump and appeared to tumble over himself, with the Swiss skier staying down in the finish area where he ended up sliding to.
That crash prompted Feuz to get out of the leader's area to check on his teammate, who was also evacuated from the finish area by helicopter. The race was resumed after a delay of more than 25 minutes, but it was paused again after another six athletes due to high winds, with the third hold lasting nearly 40 minutes.
After an interminable wait for both the remaining athletes and for Feuz, who needed at last 30 athletes to start for the race results to count, the race jury resumed the race. And with bib number 30 Nicolas Raffort taking to the slopes, Feuz's win was confirmed.
Mayer and Paris complete podium
Mayer, the 2020 Kitzbühel downhill winner, came closest to threatening Feuz.
The two-time Olympic champion was tight to Feuz's time through the first two timing checks, but started to fall away through the middle section of the course.
While he began clawing time back in the bottom third, he ran out of course and just missed out, clocking 1:53.93 to finish 0.16 seconds back.
Dominik Paris, the only man currently on the circuit with multiple wins in Kitzbühel (2013, 2017, 2019), gained time on Feuz off the Mausefalle jump at the top of the course but starting losing his tight form and the control on his jump landings lower down the course.
He crossed in 1:54.33 for third, pointing at Feuz in the leader's circle and applauding him after finishing his run.
It was the first of two downhills this weekend on the Hahnenkamm hill, with Friday's race replacing the season's other classic race at Wengen in Swtizerland. Saturday's race will be the main Kitzbühel downhill for the season.
After the second downhill on Saturday, a Super-G will complete the weekend on Sunday. The annual Kitzbühel slalom, scheduled for last weekend, was moved to Flachau alongside the Wengen slalom. Manuel Feller of Austria and Sebastian Foss-Solevaag of Norway clinched the two wins there.