Kilde in pole position for Saturday

In the second and final training session on Thursday for the downhill classic on the Saslong, top favorite Aleksander Aamodt Kilde made a respectable statement with the fastest time.

In picture-perfect conditions, Kilde impressively reminded everyone that he is once again the man to beat in the downhill on Saturday. The Norwegian set the fastest time in 2:03.42 minutes and is now hunting for his third downhill victory in a row at the foot of the Sassolungo/Langkofel mountain. The 29-year-old was already unbeatable in the classic in Val Gardena/Gröden in 2018 and 2020 and even clinched a double victory in the super-G and downhill last year.

Behind top favorite Kilde, Otmar Striedinger took second place in the final training. The Austrian finished 29/100 seconds behind the fastest in training. The podium was rounded out by Val Gardena/Gröden specialist Ryan Cochran-Siegle. The American, who took his only downhill podium in the World Cup so far on the Saslong in 2020, lost 38/100 seconds to Kilde one day after clocking his best time in the first training run.

Large gap behind the fastest four

Fourth-placed Niels Hintermann of Switzerland (+0.41 seconds) was the only skier besides Striedinger and Cochran-Siegle to keep his gap to the leading time within reach. From Johan Clarey (5th place / +1.08 seconds) on, the gap of all racers was already over one second. However, some of the co-favorites, such as crystal ball winner Beat Feuz, did not show their cards at the training and lost speed well before the finish line.

The best Italian speed specialists finished outside the top 15 in the second training for the classic downhill on Saturday. Dominik Paris was the best local racer with a 16th place. In addition to the skier from Ulten, Mattia Casse (21st), Matteo Marsaglia (27th) and veteran Christof Innerhofer (28th) and Guglielmo Bosca (30th) also finished in the top 30.

Monsen has an unfortunate fall

The second training run was overshadowed by a crash of the Swede Felix Monsen. The second fastest of the first downhill training lost control of his skis in the middle section, fell unhappily and subsequently had to be transported away by helicopter.

After the two downhill training sessions, the first World Cup points will be awarded in Val Gardena/Gröden on Friday: At 11:45 a.m., the first of two speed races is on the program with the super-G. The downhill classic on the Saslong will take place on Saturday. The start is also at 11.45 a.m.

What the fastest skiers say after the second training

Otmar Striedinger (2nd place): "I was a bit worried after my bad training yesterday, so today's performance boosts my confidence. In contrast to yesterday, the set-up was also better today. Therefore, I will not change much with regard to the races. With the good result behind me, I'm now looking forward positively to the downhill. Of course I also watched the run of Kilde, who is the absolute top favorite for Saturday. The Saslong is practically his living room and it seems he is doing everything right here. The snow in Val Gardena/Gröden is aggressive, which suits the Norwegians and US Americans who grow up in such conditions.“

Ryan Cochran-Siegle (3rd place): „To win on Saturday, I think I can connect sections a little better looking at the training runs to see where I lost and where I won time. I think it’s something you can’t force and it kind of just has to work out on race day where you can ski connected and through terrain smoothly and never brace it. You have to find yourself in the right spot rather than trying to be anywhere specific and then just race intuitively without trying too hard.“

Johan Clarey (5th place): “I got a pretty good feeling, just missed the Ciaslat. Like yesterday this is the part of the course that I am not really comfortable with but by it’s going to be fine come race day. I had two podiums here in downhill and a couple of great results in the super-G here so I could definitely be back on the podium here on Saturday. For sure there are a lot of great opponents here, the Norwegians are really strong, but if I ski well, I can be in the top three here on Saturday.“

Dominik Paris (16th place): „It was ok today, definitely better than yesterday but still not that fast. Conditions are aggressive and the snow a little sticky, definitely hard to race. The track has a lot of movement which normally is not bad in itself but it won’t be an easy race this time.”

Matteo Marsaglia (27th place): “Today went well. I'm also better with my back so I definitely had more fun. Yesterday I felt every landing. I did really well on the part of the Ciaslat with the turns. That was my starting point and I knew I had to do well there and then go on the defense on the rest of the track. Of course I could have done even better. In the past, I did well in the super-G here in Val Gardena/Gröden . Unfortunately my starting bib tomorrow is quite far back, so hopefully the course will hold up so that we can also have a good race. I'm on the mend so fingers crossed I can keep that going and ski my best. Then of course we have to see what the others will do, too.“

Christof Innerhofer (28th place): „Today I didn’t do as well as yesterday when I had a better feeling and also skied faster. I experimented with another set of skis today and while I felt better in the Ciaslat clocking a faster time there, it didn’t go as well on the upper part of the course. The course is not as hard as it was three years ago when I came in 2nd. Maybe it was also colder. Anything is possible in tomorrow’s super-G. I skied a good race here three years ago and did well but then last year I was just as positively minded but my race was disappointing. And that was the same set-up as two years prior. I’ve been tinkering around these last few days here … to find the best options and I think I found something pretty good which is why I feel more confident that I was a few days ago. Based on this I think I can ski well tomorrow. As for the downhill, my results will be somewhere in the middle, but in the Super-G anything is possible. I can do well if the race suits me, but it can also not go as well because I am skiing with skis I haven’t raced before and the model might not fit at all. I will definitely give my all to do well.“

photo (credits: Saslong Classic Club

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