Feuz claims Sochi downhill
Sat, 11 Feb 09:04:00 2012
Beat Feuz celebrated his 25th birthday in style on Saturday by winning the first World Cup downhill race to be held on the Sochi piste that will be used for the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Winner of the Lauberhorn classic in Wengen last month, the Swiss confirmed he was one of the very best speed specialists this winter, dominating his rivals to win in a time of two minutes and 14.10 seconds.
Feuz, who also won a super-G in Val Gardena in December, beat up-and-coming Canadian Benjamin Thomsen by 0.27 seconds in second.
"It's a great story to win on my birthday. I didn't expect as much. I didn't overdo it at the top to save energy for the finale," Feuz, hampered in recent weeks by toothache, told Reuters.
"After Wengen, I struggled a bit but it's great to be back in contention. It's a great motivation for the end of the season."
A world gold medallist in three different disciplines in the junior ranks, Feuz, described as "a phenomenal talent" by compatriot Bernhard Russi, who designed the Sochi course, is coming of age at the right time.
"Of course I hope to be here in two years but I will first need to qualify within the Swiss team, which is very strong," he said.
Feuz wins in Sochi
Fifth last weekend in Chamonix, Thomsen, 24, earned the first medal spot of his World Cup career and emerged like Feuz as a possible contender at the Olympics in two years' time.
"It's a dream. The World Cup has always been my passion as my dad is a ski coach," said the Canadian, who was only allowed to race in Russia thanks to his fine performance in France a week ago.
Thomsen also earned the right to sport the belt of the Canadian Cowboys, reserved to skiers with a podium placing in the World Cup or major championships.
France's Adrien Theaux, already third in a super-G in Lake Louise early in the season, snatched the last place on the podium, 0.59 adrift.
American Bode Milller, fastest on the extreme top part of the Rosa Khutor piste, faltered in the faster bottom section to miss out on the top three by 0.02.
The Rosa Khutor course already proved one of the toughest on the men's circuit, combining technique and speed, a gruelling vertical drop as well as some of the longest jumps in the World Cup.
"It's super tough physically. It's like Bormio, only longer," Theaux said.
"It's a little tight for our taste but they promised to change that for the Games. In any case, these are great facilities. I don't know how they did it in only two years but they did a great job," the Frenchman said.
A super-combined is scheduled to be held on the same course on Sunday.
World Cup leader Ivica Kostelic was 29th.Eurosport / Reuters