Kilde wins Kitzbuehel for 5th downhill victory of season

Aleksander Aamodt Kilde turned around his Kitzbuehel weekend Saturday, winning the second men's World Cup downhill on the demanding Streif course after overcoming two eventful days in the posh Austrian ski resort.

Canada's Cameron Alexander finishes tied for 6th

A male ski racer raises his arm, holding a ski, in triumph and shouts on the podium.
Norway's Aleksander Aamodt Kilde celebrates on the podium after winning the men's downhill race in Kitzbuhel, Austria, on Saturday. (Barbara Gindl/APA/AFP via Getty Images)

Aleksander Aamodt Kilde turned around his Kitzbuehel weekend Saturday, winning the second men's World Cup downhill on the demanding Streif course after overcoming two eventful days in the posh Austrian ski resort.

The Norwegian fractured a bone in his right hand during Thursday's training, then needed an acrobatic recovery in the race the next day to escape a fall near the end of his run, which he called "scary."

But racing under low clouds and in light snowfall on Saturday, he sped down the 3.3-kilometre course with no apparent mistakes, winning the storied race for the second time in his career.

"I'm super, super proud of what I did," Kilde said. "We had to dig deep today to get it going. I was really happy with my run today."

WATCH | Kilde takes downhill win in Kitzbuhel:

Norway's Aleksander Aamodt Kilde grabs downhill gold in Kitzbuhel

16 days ago
Duration 2:51
The Norwegian raced to the top of the podium at the World Cup event in Austria.

Attended by 45,000 spectators, including high-profile guests from politics, society, and sport, the downhill on the Streif is the World Cup race with the highest prize money, paying the equivalent of $109,000 US to the winner.

Former California governor and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger and American skiing great Lindsey Vonn were among the first to congratulate Kilde, even before the race was officially over as lower-ranked skiers were still coming down.

A man wearing a grey and green coat looks into the distance while chatting with a man wearing a blue parka and baseball cap.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, left, talks to Aleksander Aamodt Kilde of Norway after the men's downhill race on Saturday in Kitzbuhel, Austria. (Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

"That's just Kitzbuehel," Kilde said. "The weather is difficult, and the second training was not good, with the hand. But today, I had a good feeling. I had no pain in my hand and gave full gas. I did everything I could do, I'm satisfied."

The victory made Kilde the first male skier to win five downhills in a single season since Austrian standout Stephan Eberharter won seven times in the 2001-02 campaign.

Kilde was joined on the podium by two racers who have announced their retirement for after the season: French veteran Johan Clarey finished 0.67 seconds behind, and American downhiller Travis Ganong trailed by 0.95 in third.

"Alex was too strong. I could not beat him today but I'm happy with my race," said Clarey, who turned 42 this month and is the oldest skier on a podium in the 56-year history of Alpine skiing's World Cup.

"I'm trying to enjoy it until the end. I want to end my career on a good year with good results and healthy," said Clarey, who had a top-three result in downhill for the 10th time but is yet to win a race.

WATCH | Kitzbuhel in two words: 'Beautiful Chaos':

Canada's Cameron Alexander cracks top 10 in World Cup downhill race

16 days ago
Duration 1:51
The North Vancouver native finished tied for sixth in the alpine event in Kitzbuhel, Austria.

Ganong said he fancied the tough conditions because of the snowfall when he got to the start in the morning hours.

"For me, it's like another day at home. In Lake Tahoe, California, it's snowing like crazy. I actually love it when it's a snow storm," Ganong said after earning his fifth career downhill podium but first in six years. "My goal all season was to perform here. This is the biggest race so it's awesome to perform here."

Mattia Casse of Italy was the only other racer to finish within a second of Kilde's time. Friday's winner Vincent Kriechmayr was 1.30 back in fifth. The Austrian won all three downhills this season that Kilde didn't win.

Cameron Alexander, of North Vancouver, B.C., finished tied for sixth, 1.5 seconds behind Kilde.

"Today felt like I skied well," said Alexander to Alpine Canada. "I had a solid run yesterday but there were a few mistakes that I wanted to clean-up. Did my best today to do that and it turned out really well.

"Kitzbuehel is an insane place, coming into the finish with thousands of fans cheering felt really good. I'm stoked to build on this confidence heading into the next races and into the World Championships."

WATCH | Canada's Cameron Alexander cracks top 10:

Kitzbühel in two words: 'Beautiful Chaos'

3 years ago
Duration 1:56
Kitzbühel terrifies racers who go down the hill. It's also the pinnacle of alpine skiing.

It was Kilde's seventh win overall this season, matching his total from last year, and again equaling the Norwegian's best mark previously reached by Kjetil Jansrud in 2014-15 and Aksel Lund Svindal the following season.

Kilde still trails overall World Cup leader Marco Odermatt by 225 points. The Swiss skier sat out the race, resting after hurting his left knee in a near-crash in Friday's downhill.

Ganong's American teammate Jared Goldberg, who finished a career-best fourth on Friday, slid off the course into the safety netting. His race suit ripped open in the fall but Goldberg got up and skied down with no apparent injuries.

WATCH | Brian Stemmle's terrifying 1989 crash at Kitzbuhel:

Brian Stemmle's terrifying 1989 crash at Kitzbühel

3 years ago
Duration 1:58
Going down the hill at Kitzbühel in 1989, Canadian Brian Stemmle had a major crash and needed to be airlifted to a hospital.

Olympic downhill champion Beat Feuz finished two seconds off the pace in 16th in what was the last race of his career. Feuz, who won three downhills in Kitzbuehel and 16 World Cup races in total, announced his retirement last December.

It was the last men's World Cup downhill before the Feb. 12 world championship race in Courchevel, France.

The race weekend in Kitzbuehel ends with a slalom Sunday.

With files from CBC Sports

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