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  • Writer's pictureRaúl Revuelta

Val Gardena Alpine Ski World Cup Downhill Races Preview

Updated: Dec 17, 2022

Val Gardena is home to the Saslong Classic, one of the iconic Men's World Cup Downhill races.

In 2022 Val Gardena/Gröden will host two Downhills:

Val Gardena / Gröden (ITA)

December 15th Downhill / 12:00 CET (replaces Beaver Creek)

December 17th Downhill / 11:45 CET

In 2022 Aleksander Aamodt Kilde (NOR) won the Downhill title finishing ahead of Beat Feuz. He 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 made it clear right at the start of the speed season on the "Men's Olympic Downhill" racecourse in Lake Louise and the "Birds of Prey" racecourse in Beaver Creek that he wanted to successfully defend his Downhill World Cup Title. Kilde won the opening two men's World Cup Downhill events. In the past 17 World Cup seasons, only Norwegians Kjetil Jansrud in 2014-2015, and Aksel Lund Svindal in 2015-2016 won the first two men's Downhill events of the season.

The last man to win three successive Downhill World Cup races was Dominik Paris in January-March 2019 (Kitzbühel - Kvitfjell - Soldeu).

There have been five seasons in which one skier won the opening three Downhill World Cups, and only two occasions were in this century: JeanClaude Killy (5 in 1967), Franz Klammer (6 in 1974-1975 and 5 in 1976-1977), Stephan Eberharter (3 in 2002-2003) and Aksel Lund Svindal (3 in 2015-2016).

Since the start of 2018, Aleksander Aamodt Kilde is the only Norwegian man to have won a World Cup Downhill event.

Kilde has won sixteen World Cup races, eight of them Downhills. Only Aksel Lund Svindal (14) and Lasse Kjus (10) have won more Downhill World Cup races than him.

The 30-year-old Attacking Viking has won four World Cup events in Val Gardena (2 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).

Marco Odermatt finished third (Lake Louise) and second (Beaver Creek) respectively in the Opening Downhill World Cup races this season. Beaver Creek's podium was his 6th one in the speed discipline.

He has yet to claim his first Downhill World Cup victory, recording five second places and one third place.

Last season 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.

This season, Odermatt has won two Giant Slalom races (Sölden and Val d'Isère) and one Super-G (Lake Louise).

The last Swiss man to win the Saslong Classic Downhill in Val Gardena was Silvan Zurbriggen in December 2010.

Since the start of last season at least one Swiss skier, Beat Feuz, Marco Odermatt, or Niels Hintermann, has finished on the podium in 12 of the 13 Downhill events in the men's World Cup. The only one without a Swiss on the podium was the first Downhill held in Kitzbühel.

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).

Mayer finished in 4th place in the first two Downhills of the season in Lake Louise and Beaver Creek.

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).

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.

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.

Vincent Kriechmayr won the final Downhill of the 2021-2022 season in Courchevel-Meribel. It was his second win of the season after the Downhill in Wengen and the eleventh of his career.

Kriechmayr has got 12 wins (5 in the Downhill) and 27 podiums in the World Cup.

In the first Downhill of the season in Lake Louise Daniel Hemetsberger finished on second place +0.06 seconds behind Kilde. It was the second World Cup podium for Daniel Hemetsberger after his third place in Kitzbühel in January 2022.

Hemetsberger can become the oldest first-time winner of a men's World Cup Downhill since Georg Streitberger (32) on 28 February 2014 in Kvitfjell.

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.

The last Italian man to win the Saslong Classic Downhill in Val Gardena was Kristian Ghedina in December 2001. Paris is the last Italian to claim a Downhill podium finish in Val Gardena-Gröden: a third place in December 2014.

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.

Niels Hintermann finished on 7th place in the Opening Downhill in Lake Louise and in 9th place in Beaver Creek. Last season he was on the Alpine Ski World Cup Downhill podium 4 times. 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.

After a couple of intense years because of injuries the 27-year-old speed specialist and Swiss National Champion 2022 is looking forward this season to challenge the big names of the Downhill.

Bryce Bennett won the last downhill in Val Gardena on 18 December 2021. The win is the only time Bennett finished on the podium in 70 Downhill starts.

He ended a near-five-year victory drought for American men’s Downhillers (the last winner was Travis Ganongin January 2017).

James Crawford finished in third position the last Downhill held in Beaver Creek. It was the second World Cup podium for the 25-year-old Canadian. He finished second on the Super-G held in Kvitfjell last March 2022.

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