Kriechmayr earns first World Cup win
Birds of Prey 2017
Saturday, Dec. 2
Men’s downhill, 11 a.m.
Sunday, Dec. 3
Men’s giant slalom, 9:30 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.
BEAVER CREEK — The newbies have struck again at Birds of Prey.
Austria’s Vincent Kriechmayr, 26, became the sixth athlete to win his first World Cup in a Birds of Prey super-G. He won Friday, Dec. 1’s super-G with a time of 1 minute, 9.71 seconds.
“My first World Cup points were in the super-G (at Beaver Creek) five years ago,” Kriechmayer said. “The (Birds of Prey) super-G is one of the toughest super-Gs in the world. It looks like the super-G likes me.”
The rest of the podium was familiar with Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud in second (1:09.94) and Austria’s Hannes Reichelt third (1:10.04).
France took the next two spots with Adrien Theaux (1:10.15) and Alexis Pinturault (1:10.24).
For the trivially inclined, Birds of Prey super-G first time winners include Norway’s Bjarne Solbakken (2003) Austria’s Stephan Goergl (2004), Reichelt (2005), Switzerland’s Sandro Viletta (2011) and Italy’s Matteo Marsaglia (2012).
In history’s footsteps
Kriechmayr won his first World Cup 12 years to the day that Reichelt won his.
“That shows you only that I’m an old guy,” Reichelt joked.
On a serious note, the Austrian veteran added, “I know from the training, he’s a really good skier. It’s completely OK that he is winning this race because, how do you say in English, it was his time to win a race.”
Like Reichelt in 2005, Kriechmayr took a low-bib draw (No. 3) and went with it. (Reichelt was No. 7 in 2005 and on Friday.)
“It’s difficult after bib No. 3. You don’t know if it was good enough,” Kriechmayr said. “After Kjetil in 15th I think, I knew it was faster.”
Taking nothing away from Kriechmayr, earlier was better. Times slowed as the top 30 went. While the top of the course rattled and rolled the field, the 26-year-old Austrian mastered the Talon Turn out of the gate, Pete’s Arena, Peregrine and Russi’s Ride.
Kriechmayr’s time of 37.22 seconds during that stretch provided him the cushion he needed. Jansrud and Reichelt both ran that terrain in 37.62. Kriechmayr ended winning by 0.23 seconds.
Kriechmayr’s previous top finishes on the World Cup have been second, both times in Kvitfjell, Norway, in 2015 and 2016, in super-G. He also had a third place, also in super-G in Jeongsen, South Korea, on Feb. 7, 2016, as part of the test events for the upcoming Winter Games in Pyeonchang, South Korea.
As for celebrating, Kriechmayr doesn’t have much time.
“It’s difficult, because tomorrow is one of the toughest downhill races, so I cannot celebrate too much,” he said. “Of course, I will drink some beer with my friends.”
Jansrud defending the globe
Jansrud won the first super-G of the season last weekend up in Lake Louise, Alberta. With second at Beaver Creek on Friday, he has 180 points and is in first.
“Somehow, I’m getting the stamp of the favorite, and winning the first race, people expect a win,” Jansrud said. “But it’s not that easy. You see today a tight race and a difficult super-G and I’m very happy.”
Jansrud is a regular on the Beaver Creek podium. He won the Birds of Prey downhill in 2014 and was second in that year’s super-G.
He earned a silver medal at the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. Later that year, he was second in the 2015 Birds of Prey downhill behind Aksel Lund Svindal.
He is definitely one of the favorites for Saturday, Dec. 2’s downhill.
“I’m feeling good,” Jansrud said. “Definitely the Norwegians have not been as fast as other years, so we need to step it up. Hopefully, we’ll pull out a few secrets tomorrow and be back in the game.”
Reichelt loves Beaver Creek because he’s had three World Cup wins, Worlds gold in 2015 in super-G, and seven World Cup podiums here.
“Somebody said it was my living room here, but I think it’s always Hermann Maier’s living room,” Reichelt said referring to Austrian legend who has a record eight wins at Birds of Prey. “For me, on the super-G side, it’s close to a living room.”
Now 37, Reichelt is the elder statesman of the Austrian squad, always a powerhouse on the World Cup circuit. So far this season, Matthias Mayer took second in the Lake Louise downhill, while Max Franz and Reichelt were 2-3 in the Canadian super-G. With Kriechmayr first and Reichelt third on Friday, that’s five podiums in three races for the Austrians.
“You can be proud of the team,” Reichelt said. “We try to keep it friendly. On the slope, we have to be competitors. The good part is if there are so many good racers and you can manage, and push it up and up. That’s maybe one of the reasons we’ve started the season so strong.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.
Rita’s two closest peers have climbed the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) peak 21 times each, but both of them have retired from mountain climbing.