Vincent Kriechmayr wins men's downhill gold by smallest margin ever

  • Austrian adds downhill to the super-G title he won this week
  • Kriechmayr joins Hermann Maier (1999) and Bode Miller (2005)
Vincent Kriechmayr
Austria’s Vincent Kriechmayr poses with the gold medals of the men’s downhill and super-G on Sunday the alpine ski world championships at Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. Photograph: Giovanni Auletta/AP
Austria’s Vincent Kriechmayr poses with the gold medals of the men’s downhill and super-G on Sunday the alpine ski world championships at Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. Photograph: Giovanni Auletta/AP
and agencies

Last modified on Mon 15 Feb 2021 06.59 EST

Vincent Kriechmayr matched two legends of alpine skiing at the world championships Sunday by adding downhill gold to the super-G title he won three days ago.

The Austrian became only the third man to complete the so-called speed double at a worlds after Hermann Maier did it in 1999 and Bode Miller in 2005.

“Hermann Maier is an Austrian legend and Bode Miller is a legend, too. To be on the same step is really amazing,” Kriechmayr said.

“I don’t compare myself to Hermann or Bode Miller, they were also Olympic and World Cup overall champions,” he added. “Of course, it’s nice to achieve it as well.”

Opening the race on an icy course after a freezing cold night, Kriechmayr had no course report but still judged a tricky middle section of the Vertigine course to perfection.

The passage included six untypically sharp turns for a downhill, but the Austrian carried the perfect speed going through to keep the fastest line.

However, he had to come out of his tuck several times on the flats near the end of his run.

“It was a really special race today with bib No 1 and it wasn’t so easy,” Kriechmayr said. “I can’t believe it. It was a crazy race.”

Andreas Sander started second and soon lost three-tenths on Kriechmayr but the German racer was faster on the bottom part.

Sander trailed the Austrian by just one-hundredth of a second at the finish, earning the German team its third surprise silver medal at these worlds, after second-place finishes for Romed Baumann in super-G and Kira Weidle in women’s downhill.

Only one of the remaining 40 starters came even close to the leading pair but Beat Feuz, the 2017 world champion from Switzerland, ultimately trailed by 0.18 for bronze.

The rest of the field, led by Italian home favorite Dominik Paris and Swiss skier Marco Odermatt who shared fourth position, was at least 0.65 off the lead.

Defending world champion Kjetil Jansrud finished just more than a second behind in eighth.

“It’s disappointing,” said the Norwegian, who had only one top 10 result in downhill this World Cup season.

“What I could do today, is bring out everything physically and mentally and I felt like I did that.”

Overall World Cup champion Aleksander Aamodt Kilde is out for the season with a knee injury.

The turning section that decided the race had been sharply criticized by many racers after the first official training session on Friday.

Organizers reset those gates to make the course slightly more fluent, but still many downhillers struggled.

“It was a downhill like I’ve never seen before. It was like a giant slalom,” Feuz said. “I know where I lost my 18-hundreths. This will never be my favorite course.”

Kriechmayr said his winning recipe was “to ski not too round and not too straight.

“It’s a lot of turns but Kitzbühel and Wengen also have such turns that usually nobody would set for a downhill,” he added. “It’s not a typical downhill, but it doesn’t matter to me on what course I win.”

Sander, whose best result on the World Cup circuit was fifth, said he was very disappointed to finish ninth in the super-G.

“I knew I had to give more, that I had to switch a button,” he said. “It’s a mega feeling. We have a great atmosphere in the team after Romed got silver and Kira as well.”

An acrobatic recovery helped Maxence Muzaton avoid a crash when he caught a bump and lost control over his right ski at 120 kph (74.5 mph). The Frenchman turned around and got upright while skiing backwards.

The race was interrupted twice for crashes.

Baumann fell right after completing his run and slid through the protective banners in the finish area. The German sustained a cut on his face but escaped serious injuries.

Florian Schieder needed medical attention after apparently hurting his left knee when he was thrown off the bumpy course midway through his run.

The world championships, held in odd years, run through 21 February. Mikaela Shiffrin is again the headliner, planning to race four individual events at worlds for the first time: the combined, super-G, giant slalom and slalom.

The event continues Monday with the combined events for both women and men.