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  • Writer's pictureRaúl Revuelta

Val Gardena Alpine Ski World Cup Downhill Races Preview

Updated: Dec 27, 2023

The 56th Saslong Classic in Val Gardena/Gröden will take place on the last weekend before Christmas.

After the cancellation of the races in the Matterhorn Cervino Speed Opening in Zermatt-Cervinia and the 2023 Xfinity Birds of Prey Audi FIS Ski World Cup in Beaver Creek, the Saslong Classic will launch the Alpine Ski World Cup season for the speed skiers.

In 2023 the South Tyrolean ski resort will once again host three races, two Downhills and a Super-G. On Thursday, 14th December a Downhill race will replace one of the races cancelled in Zermatt-Cervinia.

December 14th Downhill (replaces Zermatt-Cervinia) 11:45 CET

December 16th Downhill 11:45 CET

Training sessions have been scheduled for Tuesday, 12th and Wednesday, 13th December.

Aleksander Aamodt Kilde was the winner of the 2021-2022, and 2022-2023 Downhill Crystal Globes. Kilde and Aksel Lund Svindal, who won the Downhill title in 2012-2013 and 2013-2014, are the only Norwegian skiers to have won the Downhill Crystal Globe more than once.

In the 2000s, Beat Feuz (4 consecutive from 2017-2018 to 2020-2021) and Stephan Eberharter (3 consecutive from 2001-2002 to 2003-2004) are the only male skiers to have won the Downhill Crystal Globe at least three times.

Kilde was the absolute dominator of the discipline in the Alpine Ski World Cup the last season. The 31-year-old Attacking Viking won six of ten Men's World Cup Downhill races in the 2022-2023 season (Lake Louise, Beaver Creek, Val Gardena, Wengen, Kitzbühel, and Aspen). He is the first man to have won six World Cup Downhill events in a single season since Stephan Eberharter in 2002-2003 (6). The only skiers to win more than six World Cup Downhill events in a single season were Annemarie Moser-Pröll (8 in 1972-1973), and Franz Klammer (8 in 1974-1975).

The Norwegian who had won a shortened Downhill in Wengen in 2021, proved once again that he feels right at home on the Lauberhorn racecourse. January's victory gave Kilde the Wengen double after winning the Super-G on Friday. He was the first one to achieved the double win in Wengen since Marc Girardelli in 1985.

On January 22, Aleksander Aamodt Kilde claimed, under challenging conditions, his second career win on the Streif. Now two time winner in Kitzbühel, Kilde is one of four Norwegian skiers to have won the World Cup Downhill event on the Streif. The other three are Lasse Kjus (1999 and 2004), Atle Skårdal (1990) and Kjetil Jansrud (2015).

With 21 World Cup wins, 12 of them in the Downhill, Kilde is second among Norwegian men for most World Cup Downhill wins, only behind Aksel Lund Svindal (14).

Aleksander Aamodt Kilde finished in second place behind Marco Odermatt in the Downhill at the Alpine World Ski Championships in Courchevel-Méribel.

Last season Kilde won the traditional Downhill on the Saslong in Val Gardena. The 31-year-old Attacking Viking has won five World Cup events in Val Gardena (3 Downhill, 2 Super-G). The only skier to have won more World Cup events in the South Tirol ski resort is Aksel Lund Svindal (7).

Vincent Kriechmayr finished in second place on the Downhill standings last season. He was the only man besides Aleksander Aamodt Kilde to win a World Cup Downhill event last season. Kriechmayr won in Val Gardena (15 December), Bormio (28 December), Kitzbühel (20 January), and Soldeu (15 March) but failed to finished in the podium in the other six Downhills.

The last Austrian skier to win four World Cup Downhill events in a single season was Renate Götschl in 2006-2007 (4). Stephan Eberharter was the last Austrian man to achieve this in 2003-2004 (4).

The last skier, other than Aleksander Aamodt Kilde or Vincent Kriechmayr, to celebrate a Downhill World Cup victory was Dominik Paris, in Kvitfjell, on March 5, 2022.

Kriechmayr's last victory in the Aliga racecourse in Andorra marked his 16th victory in the World Cup (32nd podium), the ninth in the Downhill.

Kriechmayr has won all the European Downhill Classics -Val Gardena-Gröden, Bormio, Wengen (twice) and Kitzbühel.

Marco Odermatt has won the Overall Crystal Globe the last two seasons. In 2023, with a total of 2,042 points, Odermatt broke the Men's points record in a single World Cup season set by Hermann Maier (2,000) in 1999-2000.

In 2023, Marco Odermatt won in Courchevel his first Downhill race to claim the World Champion Crown at the 47th Alpine World Ski Championships thanks to a near-perfect run especially on the technical sections of L'Eclipse racecourse. He finished ahead of Aleksander Aamodt Kilde and Cameron Alexander.

Odermatt, who has already won a total of 24 World Cup races in Super-G and Giant Slalom has never been on top of the podium in the Downhill. Only Heinrich Messner (7) claimed as many second places in Men's World Cup Downhill events without ever winning as Odermatt (7).

Odermatt won the Giant Slalom and Super-G Crystal Globes. He won 13 World Cup events last season (7 Giant Slalom, 5 Super-G). Only three men had also won 13 races in a single season: Ingemar Stenmark in 1978-1979 (13), Hermann Maier in 2000-2001 (13) and Marcel Hirscher in 2017-2018 (13).

The last man to win World Cup events in at least three of the traditional disciplines (Downhill, Super-G, Giant Slalom, and Slalom) in a single season was Marcel Hirscher in 2015-2016 (Super-G, Giant Slalom, and Slalom).

James Crawford finished in fourth place in the Alpine Ski World Cup Downhill standings.

Last season, the 26-year-old Canadian skier claimed three podium finishes in World Cup Downhill events, but has yet to win. He was third in Beaver Creek on December 3, and second in Bormio December 28, and Aspen March 3.

In the past eight seasons, the only Canadian man to win a World Cup Downhill race is Cameron Alexander in Kvitfjell on 4 March 2022.

The last skier - other than Aleksander Aamodt Kilde or Vincent Kriechmayr - to celebrate a World Cup win in the Downhill was Dominik Paris, in Kvitfjell on March 5, 2022. Only Franz Klammer (25), Peter Müller (19) and Stephan Eberharter (18) won as many World Cup Downhill events among men as Paris (17).

Niels Hintermann achieved the last victory for Switzerland in a Men's World Cup Downhill event. He won in the first Kvitfjell Downhill on 4 March 2022. He shared the first place in the podium with Cameron Alexander.

Update 12.12.2023

Jared Goldberg set the best time in the first training in the Saslong racecourse. The US skier finished +0.25 seconds ahead of Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, and +0.37 of Stefan Rogentin. Goldberg was never on the podium in the Alpine Ski World Cup. His best result was a 4th place in Kitzbühel last January. He has achieved three of his five top ten results in the World Cup so far on the Saslong ( 9th in 2017, 6th in 2020, and 9th again in 2022).


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