By Sandrine Wyrich
Italian skier Dominik Paris won the biggest ski race in the world on the Streif slope in Kitzbuhel for the third time in his career. The 79th edition of the race on Mount Hahnenkamm featured thrilling action and it was one of the pre-race favourites that came out on top.
Expected heavy snowfall forced the organisers to reschedule the biggest and most dangerous event of the alpine world cup calendar with the downhill being brought forward to the Friday.
2014 Streif champion Hannes Reichelt got the competition underway and set an early benchmark. Josef Ferstl with bib number four became an early surprise when beating the time by just a hundredth of a second.
His lead however was short-lived when downhill world cup leader Beat Feuz finished his run with nine tenth on the right side of the clock three runners later, setting a first sense of what the target time of the day would be. Max Franz started the race with bib number 11 but failed to finish, leaving Beat in prime position.
The time stood until Dominik Paris crossed the finish line with a two tenth advantage to his name. Otmar Striedinger threatened to cause a late upset, but eventually missed out by 0.37 seconds. Local hero Daniel Danklmeier became the big surprise of the race when he skied his way into the top five with bib number 41.
No one came close to beating Dominik though which saw the Italian collect his third Streif victory after 2013 and 2017 ahead of Beat and Otmar.
This also sees him become the first man to triumph in two downhills this season after also winning at home in Bormio back in December.
Pre-race favourites Matthias Mayer, Aleksander Aamodt Kilde and Christof Innerhofer all failed to set best times after their respective runs while Aksel Lund Svindal had to withdraw prior to the race due to an injury.
The race was overshadowed by Swedish skier Alexander Koell crashing on the slope. He had to be taken off the hill by helicopter with unknown injuries.
Dominik said at the press conference after the race: “It’s very special, winning this race three times is just amazing. Beat is skiing so well currently, it’s not easy to beat him and I’m very proud.”
The Hahnenkamm races are crucial to Kitzbuhel’s economy and tourism industry with around 100,000 spectators on-site and the area generating revenues of around 37 million Euros every year.
Barbara Thaler of Kitzbuhel ski club says: “Our ambitions are to develop and operate innovatively, to work foresighted with retrospect to the past. Experience, innovation, competence and passion are at the core.”
TV commentator Ian Findlay confirms the significance of the Streif downhill: “The race is iconic in alpine skiing, it’s the Monaco Grand Prix of the Alpine World Cup. It draws the biggest crowds and it’s a party in Kitzbuhel for the race week. All downhills on the world cup tour are tough, but many have sections which are a little easier allowing the skiers a moment of respite. The Streif doesn’t have this. Every section is tough, you can’t switch off for a moment and it just keeps coming at you. This is the race everyone wants to win as if you do, you know that everyone in the ski racing world has to respect you.”
FIND the Hahnenkamm races homepage here: https://hahnenkamm.com/en/