Italy’s Heel fastest in Wengen downhill training
WENGEN, Switzerland (AP) — Werner Heel of Italy was fastest in a relatively slow first training run on Wednesday for a World Cup downhill.
One year after Frenchman Johan Clarey set a World Cup speed record of 161.9 kph (100.6 mph) here, Heel hit 148.4 kph (92 mph) through the Hanneggschuss straight.
Heel timed 2 minutes, 39.04 seconds on the 4.4-kilometer (2.7-mile) Lauberhorn course, the longest in the World Cup, which was softened by fresh snowfalls.
Peter Fill of Italy was second, 0.30 back. Patrick Kueng of Switzerland trailed Heel by 0.45 in third.
Christof Innerhofer, the Italian defending champion, placed fourth, almost 10 seconds behind his 2013 winning time.
Austrian Hannes Reichelt, who briefly held the speed record last year before Clarey’s run, said the course had been modified in the fastest section at the two-minute mark.
“They made a little bit more turns at Hanneggschuss so there is no chance to get 160 (kph),” said Reichelt who placed third last year.
Downhill standings leader Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway was 10th.
“That wasn’t too convincing. I actually felt better here last year when I won the trainings,” said Svindal, who has never finished on a Wengen downhill podium in eight attempts.
Bode Miller of the United States, the Lauberhorn winner in 2007 and ’08 and runner-up the following year, was 15th fastest.
Svindal and Miller both start in a super-combined event on Friday — won by the American in 2010 — that is threatened by a forecast for snow during a training run on Thursday.
The slalom portion will be run first in the morning to give course workers more time to prepare the shortened downhill course in the afternoon.
The 84th Lauberhorn race meeting peaks with the classic downhill on Saturday, traditionally the most popular event on Switzerland’s sports calendar. A slalom on Sunday completes the program.