Men’s downhill season title settled in Aspen with Fill overtaking Jansrud
Aspen’s 22-year gap between men’s World Cup downhill races was worth the wait thanks to a classic duel Wednesday on the America’s Downhill course.
Italian racer Peter Fill overcame Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud to take first place in the overall downhill standings. Fill came into the final race of the season 33 points behind, but he gained 56 points to take the downhill title.
“It was a really special day for me,” Fill said after the race. “Not so easy.”
Fill was the overall downhill title winner in 2016. Jansrud won in 2015. That set up their showdown in Aspen’s 2017 World Cup Finals.
Fill managed to defend his title and earn the Crystal Globe without winning a downhill all season.
“It was a perfect season for me,” he said. “There were no wins in downhill, that was strange, but a lot of times it was really close.”
Fill’s teammate Dominik Paris was first out of the gates on the America’s Downhill course and he never relinquished the lead. He won the race with a time of 1 minute, 33.07 seconds. The victory earned him third place in the overall downhill standings.
Fill, starting third in the field of 23 racers, held up his arms in the finish area after his run, gave a shrug and indicated he gave it his best. He joked after the race that he should have implored Paris to ease up a bit to let him win.
Fill had two solid days of training with the best time on Tuesday and the second-best time Monday.
Jansrud started fifth and, at the time of his finish, he was in fifth. All the men could do is wait to see if other racers would knock them down further in the standings. Fill needed help overtaking Jansrud for the championship.
“It was a long wait and not so easy,” Fill said.
Before the field was over, five additional racers posted better times than Jansrud to secure the overall title for Fill (454 points to Jansrud’s 431).
Fill finished in 1:33.15 for second in the race while Jansrud ended up 11th with a time of 1:33.61. Carlo Janka of Switzerland finished third in Wednesday’s race with a time of 1:33.25.
The victory secured third place overall in the downhill for Paris (371 points).
“I tried to close the season with a victory and it is very, very nice,” he said. He was pleased with the one-two finish in Aspen for Italy.
“We know we are one of the fastest downhiller (teams) in the world. That’s very good for us,” he said.
Aspen restaurateur Marco Chingolani, a native of Italy, passionately cheered his countrymen throughout the race from a vantage point mid-mountain. As the number of skiers dwindled, and it became evident the Italians would take the top two spots on the podium, Chingonali yelled, “We rule the downhill!”
A men’s race hadn’t been held on the America’s Downhill course in Aspen since 1995, when American A.J. Kitt won but was stripped of the victory by the International Ski Federation because not all skiers were able to compete because of deteriorating weather conditions.
The last women’s downhill was 2007.
Paris said the course required a “complete” skier because of the flats on the top and the technical sections below. He dubbed the lower part of the course “very technical.”
“It’s not so easy,” Paris said. “It’s short so that makes it tougher because you have to push it more and not make mistakes because you can lose a lot of time.”
But the result created an instant liking for Aspen.
“It’s feeling great. First time here in Aspen. First time skiing on this course,” he said.
Fill said the Birds of Prey course is among his favorites, but he wasn’t able to race it this year because of a cancellation. He liked his first visit to Aspen, but pinpointed where he fell behind Paris. “I lost a lot of time at the top,” he said.
Canadian racers Manuel Osborne-Paradis and Erik Guay had strong showings in Aspen, finishing 4th and 6th respectively.
Americans Travis Ganong and Sam Morse had a tougher go. Ganong finished 17 while Morse was at 21.
While skiers struggled at a couple of turns on the fast, technical course, there was only one crash. Bostjan Kline of Slovenia got askew over the last jump before Aztec, missed a corner and crashed through at least two nets. He was uninjured.
Mauro Caviezel of Switzerland was the only other racer who didn’t finish when he missed a gate.
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