Three Americans Finish in Top Six at Val Gardena Downhill

Norwegian Kilde edges out Franz for the win in Italy.
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In what can only be considering an amazing day for the American Downhillers squad, Bryce Bennett (Squaw Valley, Calif.), Steven Nyman (Park City, Utah), and Travis Ganong (Squaw Valley, Calif.) each finished in the top six in the Downhill in Val Gardena, Italy. This was Bennett’s highest FIS World Cup finish to date, and a sign that the American men are just getting warmed up for the season as the tour takes on Europe.

"It was a solid run for me," Bennett reflected in an interview with US Ski and Snowboard, "I'm pretty happy with it. I knew I could do well here. Obviously I wanted to do a little bit better, and I knew I was capable of that. This is for sure my favorite downhill, and one that I know I can perform my best on, with my skillset. But, I'm happy with the day. I'll take it!"

It was a fairly perfect day weather-wise, and parts of the course seemed to have the same amount of jumps and rollers as a skiercross course. Norwegian Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, who finished in a three-way tie for third place at the Beaver Creek Birds of Prey Super G race earlier this season, drew the number six bib and put down an absolutely dominate run. He remained in the winner’s seat for the rest of the day, and no other skiers could touch his time, both at the finish as well as in every intermediary split.

Austrian Max Franz, who is continuing to have an absolutely stellar season, had the second fastest run down the course, finishing 0.86 seconds behind Kilde. His finish was strong enough to take back the top spot on the FIS World Cup Overall Points standings. 2017-2018’s Downhill Overall Points Champion Beat Feuz, of Switzerland, finished in third, 0.92 seconds behind Kilde.

Steven Nyman, who won gold on this downhill course in both 2014 and 2012, was enthusiastic about his return to Val Gardena after a few seasons of injury. “I love this hill...to be able to push for the win and know that I can compete for that top step is the reason I'm still racing,” Nyman told US Ski and Snowboard. “I'm really happy with the way I'm currently performing, I definitely can make steps forward...and my body is getting there. It's pretty cool to be so tight with Bryce right now."

Despite the solid racing conditions, the day was not without a major scare when Switzerland’s Marc Gisin lost control immediately before the “Camel Hump.” The racer went off one of the biggest jumps on the course on his side, landing hard enough to eject both of his skis and goggles. He was airlifted off the course. According to reports, his sister Michelle told Italian media that Gisin had regained consciousness and was in stable condition with a broken pelvis. We wish him a healthy recovery.

Two other Americans finished in the top thirty. Tommy Biesemeyer (Keene, N.Y.) finished 27th overall, 2.29 seconds off the winning time. Wiley Maple (Aspen, Colo.) was just behind Biesemeyer in 28th, 2.30 seconds off Kilde’s time. Jared Goldberg (Holladay, Utah) finished 2.37 seconds off the winning time, which was good enough for 31st, but just off a finish placement that would earn FIS World Cup points. Sam Morse (Sugarloaf, Maine) finished his race 3.13 seconds off the winning time to be 48th overall. See full Val Gardena Downhill results here. 

Norwegians put two on the podium during Val Gardena Super G

Aksel Lund Svindal in Val Gardena

Aksel Lund Svindal on his way to winning the Super G at Val Gardena

Aksel Lund Svindal, of Norway, took the top spot during the FIS World Cup Super G race at Val Gardena on Friday. His Norwegian Viking teammate Kjetil Jansrud finished in third place, 0.27 seconds behind. Italian Christoff Innerhofer finished between the two in second place, only 0.05 seconds behind Svindal.

Americans Ganong, Nyman, and Ryan Cochran-Siegle (Starksboro, Vt.) all finished high enough to earn FIS World Cup points with 24th, 26th, and 29th-place finishes, respectively.  See full Super G results here. 

The FIS World Cup continues on Sunday, December 16, in Alta Badia with the men’s giant slalom, and then again on Monday with men’s parallel giant slalom at the same venue. The women’s speed events to be held this weekend were postponed due to low snow conditions in France.

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