Austrians Mayer and Kriechmayr finish one-two in men’s downhill at Lake Louise

LAKE LOUISE, Alberta. – The Austrians used their early starts to finish first and second in the season opener Men’s World Cup downhill in Lake Louise, Alta. On Saturday.

Matthias Mayer won for the second time in four years at the ski resort west of Calgary, followed by teammate Vincent Kriechmayr in second.

Mayer was the seventh man to come out of the starting hut and Kriechmayr was the first.

“Of course I am very satisfied,” Mayer said. “It’s the first race of the season. I know I did a good job this summer. Not just me. In addition, Vincent did a good job this summer. As a team, we are in very good shape.

Mayer clocked a winning time of one minute 47.74 seconds with Kriechmayr crossing the finish line in 1: 47.97.

“Overall a very good race,” said Kriechmayr. “Matthias was amazing today and he was the right winner for this race.”

The reigning World Cup downhill champion, Switzerland’s Beat Feuz, had drawn a starting number 5 and finished third behind the Austrians in 1: 48.09.

Mayer also won the men’s downhill in 2018. Last year’s World Cup at the ski resort west of Calgary was canceled due to COVID-19.

Jack Crawford of Toronto was the top Canadian in 24th place. The 24-year-old had a No.52 starting bib and ran a bumpy course in the dark to earn World Cup points among the top 30.

About 40 centimeters of snowfall over a 24-hour period forced the cancellation of Friday’s descent. Course workers worked feverishly early Saturday to move snow and prepare the course for a noon local time start.

“They did a really good job on the track today,” said Mayer. “It was good skiing today and it was World Cup conditions.

The early starters had the advantage of a pristine track and better visibility, however, as clouds descended over the mountain top throughout the afternoon.

“I think it was very important because the snow was getting more bumpy from number to number,” said Mayer. “Starting number seven I think I was in a good (place) and Vincent and Beat also started in front of me. I saw Vince’s run. It was really good.”

There is stiff competition within the deep Austrian men’s team to represent their country at the February Olympic Winter Games in Beijing.

Mayer and Kriechmayr both got a head start on this task on Saturday.

“We still have so many races,” said Kriechmayr. “I want to show my best ski every time, every race. That’s my goal for the season.”

The top 30 earn points for the classification, which gives them more advantageous starting numbers in future races.

They also receive a share of the race prize totaling 120,000 Swiss francs (CA $ 163,000). Mayer took home 45,000 Swiss francs for Saturday’s victory.

No member of Canada’s young downhill team had a top 30 starting number for Saturday’s downhill, although Crawford and Brodie Seger of Whistler, BC, were ranked in the top 30 for the Sunday’s super-G.

Crawford finished in the downhill points for just the second time in his career.

“It was definitely a tough day,” Crawford said. “The light was flat and the new snow made things a bit irregular, so starting later in the field there were some pretty big holes.

“I managed to watch a few guys starting right in front of me which helped me create a plan on the fly to deal with all this changing environment and the holes on the course.

“I’m happy with the conditions today. I was really hoping for better. You still are, but with the way I skied today I’m pretty happy with the overall result.”

Seger finished just outside the points in 31st place out of a field of 65 riders.

“I’m not aiming for 30th place this season,” Seger said. “I want to be much deeper than that.”

Jeffrey Read of Canmore, Alta., Was 39th, Broderick Thompson of Whistler, BC, was 49th and Ben Thomsen of Invermere, BC, was 54th.

“It’s really too bad we didn’t have a second run here because it would be a good buyout opportunity,” said Read.

Cameron Alexander of North Vancouver, BC, almost crashed but recovered to cross the finish line in 58th place.

The women arrive in Alberta next week for two runs and a super-G at the resort in Banff National Park.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on November 27, 2021.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

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