Aksel Lund Svindal attacked the Lake Louise Downhill course to win the opening downhill of the new season. Svindal, who had been fastest in the last training run and starting last of the top seeds for the race, had a feeling in the start that the race was there for the taking: “Conditions were changing, when at the start you cannot ignore what goes on in the finish area, everyone is talking about the results. I was not sure I could win starting towards the back, but I heard Erik Guay did well, starting just before me and I knew it was possible. I heard no one was able to beat Franz, but Erik did well and I knew I would have to attack all the way if I wanted to win.” In the end young Austrian Max Franz held on for the win with Klaus Kroell and Marco Sullivan shared third place with Tobias Stechert coming from outside the top 30 to place fifth.
“Every victory feels very good,” Aksel said after the race, “But at the beginning of the season, to be at the top in all training runs and then win the race is a great sign. I have won three SG here but never a DH so this is great. It proves that what I worked on this summer was good.”
Svindal was in devastating form on his HEAD skis at the top of the course, carving out a lead and extending it at each check point. A wide turn coming into the waterfall section and then a wiggle of the skis on the run in to the finish may have given Franz who was waiting in the finish hope but by the time Svindal crossed the line, the lead was emphatic – over half a second!
As Svindal got reacquainted with the leaders enclosure in the finish, he had a moment of worry as his fellow HEAD World Cup Rebel and Norwegian teammate, Kjetil Jansrud started posting fastest split times at the top of the course. Jansrud, who won last season in Kvitfjell, crossed the line to take 9th place at the end of the race just in front of Johan Clary in tenth, making it five HEAD racers in the top ten.
For Stechert this was his best World Cup result and helps in his quest to qualify for the World Championships: “I have been skiing well in training but did not think I would be so high up the results in the finish,” explained the German afterwards.
This was Svindal’s sixth downhill win and the third time he has won in Lake Louise, all three other wins have been in the Super G.
1. Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) HEAD
2. Max Franz (AUT)
3. Marco Sullivan (USA) & Klaus Kroell (AUT)
5. Tobias Stechert (GER) HEAD
7. Guillermo Fayed (FRA) HEAD
9. Kjetil Jansrud (NOR) HEAD
10. Johan Clary (FRA) HEAD
21. Stephan Keppler (GER) HEAD
23. Mathias Mayer (AUT) HEAD
28. Georg Streitberger (AUT) HEAD