Bryce Bennett scores stunning Val Gardena downhill win

The American had never stepped on a World Cup podium before, but conquered the Saslong as Aleksander Aamodt Kilde slid out with victory at his mercy.

By Rory Jiwani
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Bryce Bennett produced a shock for the ages in the Val Gardena downhill on Saturday (18 December).

The 29-year-old American had never previously made an Alpine Skiing World Cup podium, but skied the second half of the Saslong superbly to eclipse Otmar Striedinger - the first man down the hill - by 0.14s.

Swiss Niels Hintermann (+0.32s) was third to secure his first podium finish since winning the combined event at Wengen almost five years ago.

Bennett said in his post-race interview, "I don't really know what happened today. I had a good plan last night after video and I tried my best to commit to that. I was telling myself, 'Just commit to your plan. No backing down.'

"When I crossed the line and I saw the green light I knew it was a good run. It felt a little wild, to be honest, but I think I was able to carry the speed through the Ciaslat."

When asked how he felt about claiming his first World Cup downhill win, he replied, "It's pretty good. I was thinking on the flight over to Europe, 'Dude, if you don't win one of these… come on.' It's a big monkey off my back. There’s not many people in that club so I'm excited to be in there. Hopefully I can keep skiing fast. And not sucking."

Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, who was bidding for a second consecutive double at the Italian resort after winning Friday's Super G, was well ahead on the clock at midway and looking good.

But the Norwegian was caught on his heels as he entered the tricky Ciaslat and missed the turn to bring his winning streak to an end.

Kilde said afterwards, "I felt like I was a little bit late on the line and then I caught an edge. So the ski went in the wrong direction and then I just had to pull the plug. That’s ski racing, it happens."

Aleksander Aamodt Kilde slides out of the 2021 Val Gardena downhill
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Dominik Paris had the home fans cheering with his speed on the top half but, like Kilde, struggled on the entrance to Ciaslat and ended up fourth ahead of four-time reigning World Cup downhill series winner Beat Feuz and French veteran Johan Clarey.

Some good skis from skiers with high start numbers sent reigning world champion Vincent Kriechmayr down to 14th with his Austrian team-mate, double Olympic champion Matthias Mayer, only 16th.

Mayer stays second in the overall World Cup standings and is now 48 points behind leader Marco Odermatt.

The Swiss is at Alta Badia for two giant slaloms on Sunday and Monday with the speedsters back racing at Bormio on 28 December.

Men's downhill in Val Gardena - Results

1. Bryce Bennett (USA) 2:02.42

2. Otmar Striedinger (AUT) +0.14

3. Niels Hintermann (SUI) +0.32

4. Dominik Paris (ITA) +0.40

5. Beat Feuz (SUI) +0.47

6. Johan Clarey (FRA) +0.48

7. Mattia Casse (ITA) +0.61

8. Simon Jocher (GER) +0.74

9. Josef Ferstl (GER) +0.75

10 Max Franz (AUT) +0.79

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