Jansrud wins downhill at Beaver Creek
AP Sports Writer
BEAVER CREEK — Kjetil Jansrud of Norway extended his World Cup streak to three straight races with a downhill victory Friday on a challenging course he skied to near perfection.
Jansrud followed his two-race sweep last weekend in Lake Louise, Alberta, with another splendid showing. He finished in 1 minute, 40.17 seconds, holding off Beat Feuz by 0.54 seconds after the Swiss skier made a late push. American Steven Nyman was third for his first podium spot in two years.
Jansrud kept the Birds of Prey downhill title in the Norwegian family. Teammate Aksel Lund Svindal couldn’t defend his crown after tearing his Achilles tendon playing soccer in October.
Jansrud becomes the first male skier to win three straight events since Austria’s Marcel Hirscher in 2012.
“It’s as close to a perfect run as I could’ve had,” Jansrud said. “Felt solid all the way.”
Jansrud eased into the run and then took off, finding the perfect line to generate maximum speed, much as he did in Lake Louise.
“Jansrud’s on fire right now,” said American Travis Ganong, who finished fifth despite recently breaking the top of his shin. “He’s unbeatable.”
With no Svindal this season, Jansrud has the added pressure of leading the way for the Norwegians. He’s up for the challenge, though, especially with the confidence boost from last season. He won the gold medal in the super-G and a bronze in the downhill at the Sochi Games.
“I’m glad I can perform when Aksel’s gone,” Jansrud said. “Otherwise, the questions would be the other way around. I’d have a huge problem explaining why I can’t be fast with Aksel gone. But I don’t feel like I’m stepping out of (his) shadow. It’s an individual sport and I’m happy for myself.”
Nyman found his run “super encouraging,” returning to the podium for the first time since he won in Val Gardena, Italy, on Dec. 15, 2012. It’s been a tumultuous few seasons for him, dealing with back, knee and Achilles tendon injuries. He’s also a member of the U.S. squad’s “B” team for the season, meaning he has to pay $20,000 out of his own pocket to race.
“It’s tough sometimes,” Nyman said. “When that was placed upon you and knowing I’ve won World Cups and been on the podium several times, and ask you to pay $20,000 to do your job? That’s hard.”
“A goal of mine is consistency,” he added. “I’ve always been up and down.”
It looked as if Nyman might wind up second, only to be pushed down a spot when Feuz, who started 25th, uncovered speed he hasn’t found in a while. His career has been hampered in recent seasons by a balky left knee.
“The knee will never be 100 percent again,” Feuz said through an interpreter.
That’s what makes this podium finish so satisfying for him.
“The story is almost bigger than I can imagine,” Feuz said. “It’s almost too much.”