"We always have a lot of fun here in Val Gardena/Gröden"

The Saslong showed its best side during today’s downhill training and caused many happy faces among athletes in the finish area. We collected a few comments by protagonists after today’s run.

France's Nils Allegre posted the fastest time in the training run, the first opportunity for the speed racers to get a feel of the snow in Europe after the Zermatt Cervinia races were cancelled. Mattia Casse took second with Markus Nordgard Fossland taking third. Both Allegre (53) and Nordgard Fossland (58) started towards the end of the training run with Federico Simoni (54) also showing the course was holding up as he took fourth fastest.

Mattia Casse (ITA/Place 2): "I'm glad that after the bad weather overseas we can race under such great outdoor conditions again. The mountain panorama in Val Gardena/Gröden is always impressive and the slope, which is in a very good condition, contributes to a great race week. With regard to the coming days, I hope that it doesn't snow too much and that the fresh snow won’t affect the slope too much. I am quite satisfied with my training run. I think I showed a solid performance. I'm doing better from race to race and I'm standing on my skis with more and more confidence. For the downhill I don't have any special expectations – I'll just give it my all and we'll see what comes out in the end."

Romed Baumann (GER/Place 5): "The slope is a dream. I can only compliment the organizers on the work they have done here. The results by the athletes with high starting numbers show that the track and also the jumps are well prepared. My run was very solid from start to finish. Should I manage to pull off such a run in the races, I would be more than satisfied."

Travis Ganong (USA/Place 10): "Here in Val Gardena/Gröden, my teammates and I always have great fun. US American athletes grew up on hills like these with lots of jumps, so we feel right at home on the Saslong. The snow was certainly not as fast today as in the races, but still some jumps took us quite far. Let's see how the slope develops until the downhill. I didn't always have the best feeling during my run, but overall, I can live well with my performance. Kilde is the top favorite in the two downhills – but the US Americans in my view also have a chance for the victory. It would be brilliant if Bryce (Bennett) could repeat his coup from last year."

Aleksander Aamodt Kilde (NOR/Place 14): "My run today was okay. I tried to get a feeling for the slope, because with the many key sections it has, the Saslong surprises with different tricky parts every year, which you should know before tackling the races. I really enjoy skiing in Val Gardena/Gröden, that's why I always like to come here. I have a clear plan for the two downhills and the super-G and I'm going into the competitions with confidence – even though I know, of course, that anything can happen."

Christof Innerhofer (ITA/Place 25): "I happened to make a couple of mistakes, but in certain sections, for example in the upper part, I was faster than in recent years. I have both good and bad memories of Val Gardena/Gröden – this year there is definitely one more chance to get a good result."

Marco Odermatt (SUI/Place 56): "I'm tackling the Val Gardena/Gröden downhill for the first time this year. It certainly won't be easy to be fast here, yet I will put everything on the line. At the same time, I have to see how far my energy will go, because with five races in five days, a real mammoth program awaits me. For the downhill I would place my bets on Kilde and the US Americans, who always know how to perform here. For me personally, my hopes for a good result are certainly greater than my expectations."

Britain's Roy Steudle is not racing this weekend.

Photo Saslong Classic Club

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