Cuche wins the hearts of the crowd with second in the Lauberhorn
Didier Cuche put in a superlative effort in trying to add a Lauberhorn victory to his impressive array of accomplishments in the World Cup. Right up until the start of the race all the discussion was on how much the weather would affect the outcome of the race after mild temperatures and even a spot of rain had affected the conditions. Race day dawned with “perfect” conditions and an enthusiastic record 35,000 spectators.
While the early runners expected to use the conditions to their advantage, the delay caused by Patrick Jaerbyn’s crash into the netting at the Mingekante had many thinking that the later numbers would suffer. Talking after the race, Didier Cuche explained that there was nothing the later runners could do as Andrej Jerman stood in the lead. Despite a mistake on the Ziel S curves, Klaus Kroell gritted his teeth to nudge the Slovenian off top spot by just under half a second. The excitement started to rise amongst a slightly subdued crowd as it got closer to the local racers starting.
First up was Carlo Janka but the Swiss racer could not repeat his efforts from last year and he slotted in behind Kroell. As each of the top seeds challenged, small mistakes cost them. Yet like all good books the plot was being built up with Didier Cuche going 21. Cuche has never won in Wengen and according to ex-HEAD racer Marco Buechel; this is one race he wants to add to his accolades before his career ends.
Cuche was in fantastic form at the top of the course: The splits showed he was in touch with the fastest times and then as he shot through the tunnel under the railway line he caught an edge and this wiped off speed that would be proved by slower splits. Six tenths back at the next split, this was the catalyst for Cuche to get the crowd to raise their support and urge him on to go faster. If the sharp intake when he caught an edge was audible, this was nothing compared to the cheer at each split as he edged closer to the Austrian’s time.
By the time Cuche appeared over the rise in view of the finish, it was anyone’s guess as to who would lead. Fourteen hundredths separated Cuche from the win he craved. “This is definitely a second place won,” Cuche explained afterwards before adding that he “was not the only one to make mistakes.”
For Rainer Salzgeber, boss of the Speedoholics, he was delighted with the second place that was backed up by Werner Heel in fifth, Bode Miller in eighth and Hans Olsson in tenth as HEAD skiers packed the top ten. Heel was delighted with his fifth place, describing it as “perfect” and Salzgeber agreeing that it was a great demonstration of his ability especially as he was using new skis for the first time. For Olsson this was his best result this season so far and he was happy with how his run had gone according to his team manager. For Bode Miller, Salzgeber admitted they still were working hard to give the American more speed that he craves in time for Kitzbuehel.
A late runner deprived Ted Ligety of a world cup point as he shared 31st spot with two other racers, including Tobias Stechert, but all in all this was a day of so nearly for Didier Cuche yet he won the hearts of the Swiss crowd!
1. Klaus Kroell
2. Didier Cuche (SUI) HEAD
3. Carlo Janka
5 Werner Heel (ITA) HEAD
8 Bode Miller (USA) HEAD
10 Hans Ollson (SWE) HEAD
15 Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) HEAD
17 Hans Grugger (AUT) HEAD
20 Guillermo Fayed (FRA) HEAD