Nine years after Hermann Maier and eight years after Stephan Eberharter, Didier Cuche became the third skier to achieved a double win on the Streif at Kitzbühel, winning back-to-back the Super-G and the downhill of the legendary Hahnenkamm event.
The 35-year-old Swiss already won the downhill in 1998 and 2008, attacked once more the course with greatest determination to beat by only a few tenths of a second Slovenia’s Andrej Sporn while Italy’s Werner Heel came in 3rd.
The reigning Super-G World Champion was particularly excited about his superb performance which helped him to reinforce his lead in the downhill World cup standings prior the coming Olympics. He leads now the classification with a margin of 88 points on his young colleague Carlo Janka with only two races left at Kvitfjell and Garmisch-Partenkirchen in March.
“This is a wonderful day for me, finally I managed to win the real Hahnenkamm downhill, I’m very proud of myself,” said the HEAD champion afterwards. “In 1998 I won a sprint downhill and in 2008 a shortened one because of bad weather conditions at the top. Today I claimed the real one, that’s just so great,” the Swiss also explained.
Cuche also said that he was pretty satisfied with his aggressive run having decided earlier in the morning about the line he was aiming to follow in the treacherous lower part. “Last summer I watched nearly twenty times Stephan Eberharter’s dream run from 2004 on video. I was tempted to charge as hard as he did in the final steep turns but then I decided it would make more sense to follow a smoother and less risky line there. I tried the tougher one in training and I definitely had problems in that section so I went for the more conservative one this time. Anyway, I think you can really try that old line anymore because the gates are now set in a different way.”
He also commented on his attitude at the start and his confidence prior entering the spectacular start house. “For sure my success in the Super-G helped me to feel confidence and relaxed prior the race, I had a good time with my trainers and I was not so nervous. It helped me to be focused and achieve a very good start right away.”
At the post-race press conference, he also explained that it’s difficult to compare his three downhill wins here event though the first one in 1998 remains very special and emotional. “I came back from a bad injury that season and I felt incredibly relieved after that win, it was like a new birth for me,” he said.
“Yet to win here is always very special. In a way you first have to win over yourself here, there is so much pressure on you here that you have to try much harder than somewhere else. The most important is to have a solid run and be healthy at the end of the race.”
With four wins this season already in his pocket, Didier also looks forward with great pleasure to the rest of the season – with the next two giant slalom races in Slovenia, and then the Olympics at Whistler Mountain. “I feel strong in giant slalom and I like competing on the challenging slope of Kranjska Gora,” said the Swiss who is also skiing the slalom on Sunday to score a few points in the ‘classical’ Hahnenkamm combined.
“I’m happy to go as a favourite to the Olympics next month, I rather be chased than the chaser,” he added. “When you are chasing, you also put a lot of pressure on you and you can make errors.”
Coming back on his crash at Val d’Isère during free-skiing on the Super-G course, Cuche explained that it was in fact worse than at first sight because he also suffered a rather strong concussion after being unconscious for some minutes. “My broken rib was in fact a lesser problem than this concussion, but the doctors wanted it to remain a secret for a while, I still don’t understand why. But I definitely had a hard time afterwards finding back all my means and my confidence.”
Cuche is also looking forward for a nice break at home in the week prior his travel to Canada. “It will be great to be home and do some hard physical work-out, it’s the last occasion prior the end of the season. I hope to tank much energy during this week and feel fresh and ready again for the next events,” added the Swiss who sat in the ‘Hermann Maier’ gondola in the morning before the race. “It’s nice of course, but I found out that the organizers missed some of his wins. He won five times in total but only the one in the year 2000 is mentioned.”