Switzerland’s veteran Didier Cuche celebrated another great victory today at Kitzbühel where he won the coveted Super-G race after a very aggressive run down the treacherous ‘Streif’ course surrounded by thousands of spectators.
It’s the third World Cup win this season – and the twelfth in his career - for the 35-year-old skier. He already captured the giant slalom event at Sölden in October and the downhill at Lake Louise a month later to become one of the few racers having excelled in several specialties during the same winter.
The HEAD champion was particularly happy with his performance after a slow season start in that event. “This is very exciting; to win again a Super-G is wonderful but it’s even very special to do so here at Kitzbühel,” said the Swiss ace, a two-time winner here in downhill in 1998 and 2008.
“This is a very demanding course but I nailed to bottom part nearly perfectly, I took a very straight line after the difficult ‘Hausbergkante’ which helped me to keep all my momentum prior the last part,” added Cuche, the reigning World Champion in that specialty.
"That's a key part switching the skis onto the traverse. I think I caught it perfectly, almost too good. I was so close to the gate that if the ski would have touched some bump, it would have gotten problems. I had luck to have such a nice line there and then through the finish."
"I was lucky I managed to remain so high on that final line, it was pretty tricky," also explained Didier Cuche, who already ended three times on the podium here in Super-G.
"I think it's kind of the feeling that when you're here, you have to grow to your capacity to be better than the other guys," he also said about his success in the noted Austrian resort.
"That's pushing me really far to my limits. It's a feeling that I really appreciate when I'm in the finish in Kitzbühel and I'm fast."
Being the first Swiss athlete to triumph in that discipline here since 1995, Didier Cuche also reinforced his position among the leaders of the Overall World Cup standings. He is now in 3rd place behind his teammate Carlo Janka and Austria’s Benjamin Raich and could get closer to them with another strong performance in Saturday’s downhill.
"It’s definitely a strong boost for my confidence, I’m happy to have won again today after a series of difficult races in past weeks," he told the press. "I’ll enjoy each single second on the prize giving ceremony this evening, it’s always a special moment here with all the crowd cheering for us in the finish area."
"When you look at the results sheet of this competition, you only see big names such as Hermann Maier who won it five times in total. It definitely means something to finally win it."
After a strong season start with back-to-back wins in Sölden and Lake Louise, and some solid results at Beaver Creek where he was 2nd in downhill, Cuche faced difficult days in December at Val d’Isère where he broke a rib while free-skiing the race course. He didn’t finish the Super-G and skipped the giant slalom on the ‘La Face’ run that week.
He needed some time to recover from that painful injury which didn’t prevent him though to score two encouraging 5th places afterwards at Bormio and Wengen.
His chances to fight for another win in Saturday’s legendary ‘Hahnenkamm’ downhill are strong considering his strong confidence and his regained form. Earlier this week, he clocked the fastest time in the first training run.
"This race is such a highlight for the downhillers. I’m very excited to belong again to the group of favourites here. Yet I know what it will take to win it again – another nearly perfect run from top to bottom. The course is in great shape and many racers are highly motivated. It's the last downhill prior the Olympics."
Only two athletes were able to win the Super-G and the downhill within two days in the past years – Hermann Maier in 2001 and Stephan Eberharter in 2002. Austria’s Günther Mader and USA’s Daron Rahlves also won both races but not in the same winter. Didier Cuche would certainly be very proud to add his name to this prestigious group.