Switzerland’s Kueng takes the downhill
BEAVER CREEK — Swiss ski legend Didier Cuche may be retired, but the Swiss can still conquer a downhill.
Patrick Kueng, who recorded his first World Cup in here in super-G on Dec. 7, 2013, made his first medal at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships a golden one, finishing with a time of 1 minute, 43.18 seconds during the men’s downhill on Saturday at Beaver Creek. He was joined on the podium by teammate Beat Feuz in third in 1:43.49. Feuz celebrated in the finish area with Cuche’s patented ski flip-and-catch.
And in between this Swiss podium sandwich was American Travis Ganong with silver in a time of 1:43.42, for the U.S. Ski Team’s second medal of Worlds. (Lindsey Vonn took bronze in the women’s super-G on Tuesday.)
Kueng, who established his bona fides with a 2014 downhill win in his home country at Wengen, made what seemed to be a fatal error on the Birds of Prey’s notorious Talon Turn, coming out of that obstacle with lots of snow kicking up. But he apparently had the right line. By Punphouse, the second interval, he was 0.37 seconds up and on his way.
Before Ganong ran, the Americans already had an athlete on the podium with Steve Nyman, who ended up fourth. Ironically, Ganong nailed the Talon, but lost just enough speed on the lower portion of the course to miss the top step of the podium by 24-hundredths of a second. Nonetheless, Saturday was a big bounce-back day for the hosts after getting blanked in the women’s downhill podium. The partisan American crowd roared its approval when Ganong entered the finish stadium in second.
Feuz, who missed the entire 2012-13 with a knee injury and appeared still to be hampered by it during the 2013-14 campaign, ran 15th and displaced Nyman from the hot seat. Ironically, Feuz’s first podium back after his injury came in last year’s Birds of Prey downhill, when he finished second, one spot ahead of Nyman.
Saturday’s podium was all by first-time medalists at Worlds.
France’s Guillermo Fayed finished fifth, followed by Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal, who continues to astound the medical world by his early return from a burst Achilles tendon.
The Czech Republic’s Andrej Bank popped into seventh, and he should be a factor in Sunday’s men’s combined, which starts at 10 a.m.
American Andrew Weibrecht made a charge from the back, flirting with green numbers before falling into ninth place.
This story will be updated.
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.