The Alpine Ski World Cup Speed Season Kicks off in Lake Louise
Updated: Apr 10
One month after the Opening Giant Slalom in Sölden, and after the cancellation of the races in Zermatt-Cervinia, it’s time for the speed racers to start their World Cup season. As every year since 1999, with the exception of the 2020-2021 season when the World Cup skipped the North America Tour due to the pandemic, first speed events will be staged in beautiful Lake Louise, one of the most picturesque spots of the entire calendar, deep in the Canadian Rockies, in a nature reserve on the edge of a pristine Lake that is surrounded by glaciers.
There has been talk that, sadly, 2022-2023 will be the last time World Cup races will take place in Lake Louise and after more than 40 years, the speed classic at Canada's only World Cup venue will disappear from the racing calendar. But apparently there is now hope again that Lake Louise will remain on the racing calendar, because the FIS has not yet found a viable alternative.
The men will be the first to race, with one Downhill scheduled on Friday 25th and two Super-G on Saturday 26th November and Sunday 27th November.
In the 24 World Cup races held in Lake Louise, there have been 20 different winners, four of them with two victories: Stephan Eberharter (2000 and 2002), Michael Walchhofer (2003 and 2010), Didier Cuche (2009, 2011), and most recently Aksel Lund Svindal (2012 and 2015).
After the Men’s week, the Ladies will take over the hill the following week. Two Downhills and a Super-G will be staged in Lake Louise on 2-4 December.
Lake Louise (CAN)
November 25th Downhill 12:30 LOC / 20:30 CET
November 26th Super-G 12:30 LOC / 20:30 CET
November 27th Super-G 12:30 LOC / 20:30 CET
Facts Race Course Downhill:
Name: Men's Olympic / East Summit
Altitude at the start: 2,507 m
Altitude at the finish line: 1,680 m
Vertical drop: 827 m
Steepest section: 53%
Length of race track: 3,087 m
Ski racing speed: Up to 150 km/
The Downhill at Lake Louise has been dominated by Austrian skiers. Up to 9 times they have won the speed event in the Banff National Park ski resort.
Lake Louise Downhill Winners:
2021 Matthias Mayer (AUT)
2019 Thomas Dressen (GER)
2018 Max Franz (AUT)
2017 Beat Feuz (SUI)
2015 Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR)
2014 Kjetil Jansrud (NOR)
2013 Dominik Paris (ITA)
2012 Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR)
2011 Didier Cuche (SUI)
2010 Michael Walchfofer (AUT)
2009 Didier Cuche (SUI)
2008 Peter Fill (ITA)
2007 Jan Hudec (CAN)
2006 Marco Buechel (LIE)
2005 Fritz Strobl (AUT)
2004 Bode Miller (USA)
2003 Michael Walchfofer (AUT)
2002 Stephan Eberharter (AUT)
2000 Stephan Eberharter (AUT)
1999 Hannes Trinkl (AUT)
1991 Franz Heinzer (SUI)
1991 Atle Skaardal (NOR)
1983 Helmut Hoflehner (AUT)
1980 Herbert Plank (ITA)
Since 2000, the first men's Downhill of a World Cup season took take place in Lake Louise on 19 occasions, and three times in Val d'Isère (2001, 2016, 2020).
Four men have won the Lake Louise World Cup Downhill two times. The last man to achieve this was Aksel Lund Svindal in 2012 and 2015.
Last year the Austrian speed skiers had a dream start to the season in Lake Louise with Matthias Mayer leading a 1-2 Austrian podium finish.
Matthias Mayer won the season-opening Downhill at the Canadian Rocky Mountains. In a spectacular race, Mayer edged teammate Vincent Kriechmayr by +0.23 seconds. Switzerland’s Beat Feuz finished 0.35 behind in third place.
It was his seventh career Downhill victory and the second time he wins in Lake Louise, after his victory in the Super-G in 2019.
Mayer may become the first man to win the men's first Downhill in successive World Cup seasons since Stephan Eberharter did it from 2000-2001 to 2002-2003 (three seasons in a row, two in Lake Louise and one time in Val d'Isère).
In 2019, exactly one year after his last race in the World Cup -on November 30, 2018 in Beaver Creek he had suffered a serious knee injury that ended his season-, Thomas Dressen achieved in Lake Louise his then third World Cup victory, ahead of Dominik Paris and the Swiss duo of Carlo Janka and Beat Feuz, both in joint third place.
Last season Aleksander Aamodt Kilde (NOR) won the Downhill title finishing ahead of Beat Feuz. The Swiss athlete just missed his fifth Crystal Globe in the Downhill by 13 points. Feuz failed to win his fifth successive downhill crystal globe. The only man to collect five downhill globes is Franz Klammer, but the Austrian did not achieve this in successive seasons (1974-1975 to 1977-1978 and 1982-1983).
Matthias Mayer Finished third in the Downhill standings.
Aleksander Aamodt Kilde is the fourth Norwegian man to win the Downhill Crystal Globe, after Lasse Kjus (1998-1999), Aksel Lund Svindal (2012-2013, 2013-2014), and Kjetil Jansrud (2014-2015).
Aleksander Aamodt Kilde (3) is the only man to record more than two World Cup Downhill wins last season, claiming the win in Beaver Creek, Wengen, and Kitzbühel. He became the fourth Norwegian winner on the Streif (Kitzbühel), after Åtle Skårdal (1990), Lasse Kjus (1999, 2004) and Kjetil Jansrud (2015).
Kilde claimed seven World Cup wins in total last season, equal to the Norwegian record by Kjetil Jansrud (7 in 2014-2015) and Aksel Lund Svindal (7 in 2015-2016).
Kilde is the ninth man to win both speed globes in a single season and the first since Kjetil Jansrud in the 2014-2015 season.
This season, Beat Feuz is looking to grab his fifth Downhill crystal globe. The only man to collect five Downhill globes is Franz Klammer (1974-1975 to 1977-1978 and in 1982-1983).
Beat Feuz (13 victories) is one shy of equalling Michael Walchhofer and Aksel Lund Svindal (both with 14) in seventh place on the men's list for most World Cup Downhill wins. Franz Heinzer and Hermann Maier (both 15) are joint in the fifth position.
With 47, Feuz holds the men's record for most World Cup downhill podium finishes six more than any other skier (41 by Franz Klammer and Peter Müller). Last season the Swiss collected 7 World Cup downhill podiums, the same as in 2017-2018 and 2019-2020.
Last season Feuz achieved his only win in the second Downhill held in Kitzbühel. It was the third win on the Streif. He joined the group of seven skiers to have won on the Streif more than twice in the Alpine Ski World Cup: Didier Cuche (5), Franz Klammer (4), Dominik Paris (3), Franz Heinzer (3), Karl Schranz (3), Luc Alphand (3) and Pirmin Zurbriggen (3).
Beat Feuz won the Men's Downhill at the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing. The 35-year-old ski ace became the fourth man to complete the Downhill set of an Olympic title, world title, crystal globe, and a win on the Streif in Kitzbühel, after Jean-Claude Killy, Pirmin Zurbriggen, and Franz Klammer.
Feuz won the opening Downhill in Lake Louise on 25 November 2017. Beat Feuz (1-6-3-6-3) and Matthias Mayer (2-8-5-8-1) are the only male skiers to have finished on the top 10 of the opening World Cup downhill event in each of the last five seasons.
This season Matthias Mayer is hoping to become the first Austrian winner of the men's Downhill crystal globe since Klaus Kröll (2011-2012). Austrian skiers have won the Downhill globe a record 23 times in the men's Alpine Ski World Cup (21 by Switzerland).
In 2021-2022 Mayer finished on the podium in the Downhill three times (Lake Louise, Beaver Creek, and Kvitfjell). His only win came on Lake Louise in November. Austria's speed skiers had a dream start to the season in the Canadian Ski Resort. In a spectacular race, Mayer edged teammate Vincent Kriechmayr by +0.23 seconds for an Austrian 1-2 finish.
In February Matthias Mayer claimed bronze in the Downhill at the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing. Mayer also won the men's Super-G at the Olympic Winter Games, his third Olympic gold medal after Sochi 2014 (Downhill) and PyeongChang 2018 (Super-G). He became the third alpine skier to win gold at three different Winter Games, after Kjetil André Aamodt (Albertville '92, Salt Lake 2002, and Torino 2006) and Deborah Compagnoni (Albertville '92, Lillehammer '94, and Nagano 1998).
In 2023 Dominik Paris could join Peter Fill (2015-2016, and 2016-2017) as the only Italian winners of the men's Downhill crystal globe. Paris, winner of the 2018-2019 Super-G crystal globe, can become the first Italian skier, male or female, to win both speed globes.
With 17 wins Paris is one shy of equalling Stephan Eberharter (18) in third place on the men's list for most World Cup Downhill wins. He is the active male skier to have won most Downhill events in the World Cup. On the all-time Men's list, only Franz Klammer (25), Stephan Eberharter (21), and Peter Müller (20) have more Downhill races in the World Cup than Paris.
Dominik Paris (2), Vincent Kriechmayr (2), and Aleksander Aamodt Kilde (3) are the only skiers to record multiple World Cup Downhill wins in the 2021-2022 season.
Paris's last season wins came in Bormio and Kvitfjell.
He set a new record of victories in Bormio: 6 Downhill races (2012, 2017, 2018, a double in 2019, and 2021) and a Super-G (2018), and also a new record for most World Cup Downhill wins at a specific ski resort, edging Didier Cuche with five in Kitzbühel.
He was also the first man to win the Kvitfjell Downhill three times in the World Cup. The Italian previously won in the Olympiabakken racecourse in 2016 and 2019.
Marco Odermatt was on the Downhill podium 4 times last season. He finished in second place in Bormio, Wengen, Kitzbühel, and in the Alpine Ski World Cup Finals in Courchevel-Meribel.
The Swiss won the Overall and Giant Slalom Crystal Globes and finished second in the Super-G and fourth in the Downhill standings. He was really close to becoming the first man to record World Cup wins in the Giant Slalom, Super-G, and Downhill in a single season since Didier Cuche did it in the 2009-2010 winter season. The last man to win four crystal globes in a single season was Hermann Maier (2000-2001).
Odermatt is the fifth Swiss man to win the Overall, after Peter Lüscher (1978-1979), Pirmin Zurbriggen (1983-1984, 1986-1987, 1987-1988, and 1989-1990), Paul Accola (1991-1992), and Carlo Janka (2009-2010).
At least one Swiss skier, Beat Feuz, Marco Odermatt, or Niels Hintermann, has finished on the podium in 10 of the 11 Downhill events in the men's World Cup last season. The only one without a Swiss on the podium was the first Downhill held in Kitzbühel.
Vincent Kriechmayr won the final Downhill of the season in Courchevel-Meribel. It was his second win of the season after the Downhill in Wengen and the eleventh of his career. He also won the final Super-G of the season in the French Ski Resort. Kriechmayr has got 12 wins (5 in the Downhill) and 27 podiums in the World Cup.
Kriechmayr (2), Dominik Paris (2), and Aleksander Aamodt Kilde (3) are the only skiers to record multiple World Cup Downhill wins in the 2021-2022 season.
Kriechmayr won the Lauberhorn Downhill in Wengen. The Austrian, after being quarantined and missing both training sessions, played the role of the spoiler in the 2022 Downhill race in Wengen, edging Swiss hero Beat Feuz by 0.34 seconds to claim his first Downhill victory of the season. He joins Franz Klammer (3) and Stephan Eberharter (2) as the only Austrian men to win in Wengen multiple times in the World Cup.
Niels Hintermann finished on the Alpine Ski World Cup Downhill podium 4 times last season. He ended in 7th position in the Downhill standings.
He won in Kvitfjell and was third in Val Gardena, Bormio, and the second Downhill held in the Norwegian ski resort.
The first of two Downhill races in Kvitfjell brought two new winner faces in the World Cup. Swiss Niels Hintermann and Canadian sensation Cameron Alexander, surprisingly shared their first Downhill victory in the World Cup. It was the first Men's Downhill joint first place since 2018 in Are when Matthias Mayer and Vincent Kriechmayr shared the first position. It was his second World Cup victory after winning the Alpine Combined in Wengen in 2017.
After a couple of intense years because of injuries the 27-year-old speed specialist and Swiss National Champion 2022 is looking forward next season to challenge the big names of the Downhill.
Johan Clarey, silver medallist in the Downhill at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games, has collected eight World Cup podiums in the Downhill, but failed to win one. Only Heinrich Messner (10) and Mario Scheiber (8) have claimed as many World Cup downhill podiums without ever winning.
The 41-years-old French speed specialist could break the record for oldest man to win a World Cup event, set by Didier Cuche (37y-192d) in the Crans-Montana Super-G on 24 February 2012.