KITZBUHEL (Austria) – Italian Peter Fill won the famous Streif downhill in Kitzbühel (AUT) on a race day that pushed everyone to their limits. Switzerland found its speed power again as Beat Feuz and Carlo Janka finished in second and third place.
“At the start of the season, I said I wanted to win Wengen or Kitzbühel, so to be sitting here today I am really happy,” said Fill. “This race is definitely the season highlight, with no Olympics and World Championships this year, this was the biggest prize for me to win.”
The day started with tough conditions on the Streif, with snow falling and heavy winds, the start of the race was lowered to just above the Mausefall jump and delayed by one hour. Once the race was underway it was clear the toughest course on the Audi FIS World Cup tour would test the world’s best skiers.
“The course was in decent shape when I went down,” said Janka. “But the light was really tricky today and I think that caused a lot of the guys problems.”
Ultimately, the race had to be halted after the top 30 skiers as the conditions were no longer safe enough to complete the full race with snow coming down and light fading quickly due to the late start and many lengthy delays. The race results still count in the World Cup standings, despite being halted.
Otmar Striedinger (AUT) unknowingly set the tone for the day as he came down as the first skier and crashed right at the finish line. Fortunately, he was unhurt in the fall. But he would prove to be just the first of many racers who had bad luck on the most challenging course on tour.
In total, six of the top 30 racers did not finish, including three horrific crashes that happened in virtually the same location and took down some of the top names on tour. Georg Streitberger (AUT) crashed on the curve just before the traverse on the lower part of the course and had to be airlifted. Ten bibs later, Hannes Reichelt suffered the same fate.
“It’s always really hard to watch your fellow racers crash, and it definitely was a shadow on the day,” said Feuz. “On one hand, I’m happy with my podium result and to be back among the top racers, but it’s not a big celebration feeling right now.”
Just two racers after Reichelt, current World Cup leader Aksel Lund Svindal also crashed in the same location, but got up on his own to leave the course.
“You always have to push your limits in Kitzbühel,” said Fill. “I crashed here three years ago. Sometimes you finish and sometimes you don’t. It’s part of ski racing and something we all accept with any race we start. I hope the three guys will be back on tour quickly. You never want to see this happen, but unfortunately, some days it does.”
The weekend of action in Kitzbühel closes tomorrow with a slalom race with the first run scheduled at 10:30 CET. The tour then continues onto Schladming (AUT) for a a night slalom race on Tuesday.
Update on the three injured skiers:
Streitberger: Suffered a torn ACL and will be operated on immediately.
Reichelt: A severe deep bone bruise on his left leg, is uncertain for Garmisch-Partenkirchen, but is expected to be back in 2-3 weeks.
Svindal: Is having his right knee checked in Innsbruck, but nothing serious is suspected. He is in a smiling good mood with his doctor from his previous Achilles injury, Dr. Fink, according to the Norwegian Team report..