Road To The Olympic Games

Alpine Skiing

Thomas Dressen wins Lake Louise downhill in comeback race from injury

In a stunning return from serious injury, Thomas Dressen won a World Cup downhill in his comeback race on Saturday in Lake Louise, Alta.

German returns exactly 1 year after blowing out knee and dislocating shoulder

Germany's Thomas Dressen reacts in the finish area following his successful run in the men's World Cup downhill ski race at Lake Louise, Alta., on Saturday. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Thomas Dressen's comeback started in the winner's circle.

The 26-year-old German won the season-opening men's World Cup downhill Saturday in his first race in almost a year.

Dressen edged runner-up Dominik Paris of Italy by two hundredths of a second. Swiss teammates Carlo Janka and Beat Feuz tied for third with identical times.

Dressen tore ligaments in his knee and dislocated his left shoulder crashing in last year's downhill in Beaver Creek, Colo.

A year minus a day after he was carried off that mountain on a stretcher, Dressen stood atop the podium in Lake Louise, Alta.

WATCH | Germany's Thomas Dressen tops podium:

Germany's Thomas Dressen finishes 1st, exactly 1 year after blowing out knee and dislocating shoulder. 2:25

"I was away for a whole year and during the year all the other guys made huge steps," Dressen told The Canadian Press.

"To be honest, some days ago somebody asked me 'what's your target for the race in Lake Louise?' I said 'I hope I can score points."'

The top 30 finishers among 65 starters earned prize money and World Cup points on a descending scale. Dressen claimed $60,000 for the victory.

WATCH | Thomas Dressen discusses his World Cup win:

Germany's Thomas Dressen discusses his World Cup win, exactly 1 year to the day after he blew out his right knee and dislocated a shoulder crashing at Beaver Creek, Colorado. 1:03

Ben Thomson of Invermere, B.C., battled both the course and a sore left knee. He crossed the line almost two seconds back of Dressen in a three-way tie for 30th as the top Canadian.

The 32-year-old was limping after the race. Thomsen wondered aloud if he would able to race Sunday's super-G.

"It's not good," Thomsen admitted. "We'll see. I'm going to prep and get ready for it, but it was pretty painful today. I don't think I let that bother me with my run, but it's hard to say if it did or not.

"I skied some sections really good and some sections really bad."

Coming off a breakout 2017-18 season featuring downhill wins in both Kitzbuhel, Austria, and Kvitfjell, Norway, Dressen placed seventh in Lake Louise to start last season before his wreck in Colorado.

"To be honest, this whole season, it doesn't matter what comes," the German said. "I agreed with the coaches it's going to be a comeback season.

"It's not that much about results. Just to get back to where I was. I think it's pretty good right now. Right now, I just try to stay calm and enjoy the moment."

Jeff Read is Canada's top finisher:

He was quicker over the final flats than Paris, who claimed last year's overall World Cup super-G title.

"I started very good," Paris said. "Maybe the middle section was not the limit of what I can, but it was very good too. At the bottom, I pushed what I can, but Thomas was very fast on the last split.

"He's coming off a knee injury, but I saw him yesterday in the second training run. He was doing well and was fast in the bottom."

Janka, who was the quickest in two training runs, posted the day's top speed of 126.54 kilometres per hour in cold, calm and sunny conditions.

"My pre-season was not that good," Janka said. "I didn't ski much because of my back. Going well in this week with the two trainings. Confidence is going up and with the [ski] set-up, it worked well this week."

Reigning world downhill champion Kjetil Jansrud of Norway was eighth.

Calgary's Jeff Read, Brodie Seger and Cameron Alexander of North Vancouver placed 46th to 48th respectively.

Toronto's Jack Crawford was 57th. Vancouver's Sam Mulligan slid into the safety nets on the bottom section of the course and did not finish.

Broadcast Partners

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.