Austria’s Max Franz wins Lake Louise downhill; Aspen’s Wiley Maple is 34th
MAPLE JUST MISSES POINTS
Aspen ski racer Wiley Maple finished 34th in Saturday’s downhill at Lake Louise, with the top 30 earning World Cup points. He had a time of 1:48.48, finishing 2.30 back of winner Max Franz of Austria.
Maple had a strong showing in Wednesday’s downhill practice session, where he placed 16th. He was 42nd in Thursday’s second downhill training run, while weather forced the cancellation of Friday’s final training session.Maple is set to compete in Sunday's super-G at Lake Louise, where he is bib No. 64 of 67 racers.
LAKE LOUISE, Alberta — Being the first one to take the course, Max Franz had no idea if his run was particularly fast or podium worthy.
The Austrian racer watched and watched as racers tried to match his time. No one did.
Leading off, Franz turned in a blistering time Saturday to win the season-opening World Cup downhill. Franz finished in 1 minute, 46.18 seconds to hold off Christof Innerhofer of Italy by 0.28 seconds. Italy’s Dominik Paris was third, 0.54 seconds back.
“I had a really good run. But I made a little bit of a mistake,” Franz said. “It looks like it was a good line.”
Franz said the weather slightly changed, with the wind picking up near the top of the course.
“I had the luck on my side today,” he said. “It’s a really great day.”
This was the second career World Cup win for the 29-year-old Franz. He also won a downhill race in Italy nearly two years ago.
Franz began to believe his run was good enough to earn a spot on the podium after Swiss racer Beat Feuz wound up sixth. Feuz earned the crystal globe trophy a season ago for leading the downhill standings.
In recent weeks, Franz has been dealing with a knee issue. Coming into Lake Louise, he was unsure how it would hold up. But the first training run gave him confidence the knee was fine. The second training run provided a little more reassurance that he could push even more.
“My skiing looks pretty good,” Franz said.
Innerhofer knew he had the speed to be on the podium after turning in the top time during Wednesday’s training session. Racing second, Innerhofer was on pace to top Franz before losing time near the bottom.
“I knew my run was not bad and hoped for top-10,” Innerhofer said. “Everyone says I’m the world champion in the training runs. Now I say it’s time to go up in the race, too.”
American Steven Nyman finished 11th, a spot ahead of teammate Bryce Bennett.
A super-G is set for Sunday before the men head to Beaver Creek for super-G, downhill and giant slalom races.
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Buttermilk Ski Area already is scheduled to host the world’s best at ESPN’s X Games this coming week, while it was recently announced Aspen Highlands will host alpine skiing’s NorAm finals later this spring.