Jansrud wins World Cup downhill title ahead of Reichelt
MERIBEL, France (AP) — Kjetil Jansrud clinched the World Cup downhill title Wednesday by winning the last race in the discipline at the season-ending finals.
The Norwegian entered the race with a 20-point lead over Hannes Reichelt of Austria, but did not need it as he attacked the Roc de Fer course aggressively to beat Swiss veteran Didier Defago by 0.24 seconds.
“This was the first race this season where I was feeling a little bit of pressure, but it’s an amazing feeling pulling it off,” Jansrud said. “It was an exciting day. I spent a lot of time during the day controlling my energy, and my mind-set, and my heart was beating faster than normally, for sure.”
Georg Streitberger of Austria was third, 0.31 behind Jansrud, who has already won the super-G title. Reichelt was 10th.
Jansrud, the Olympic super-G champion, is also battling for the overall World Cup title with Marcel Hirscher, the giant slalom champion. Hirscher, who did not race in the downhill, leads Jansrud by 64 points.
Also, American Lindsey Vonn women won the women’s downhill to take the downhill title for a record seventh time. Austrian Anna Fenninger placed second in the standings.
Jansrud leaned back in triumph and raised both poles in the air after seeing his time on the board. Defago — the 2010 Olympic champion who is retiring after the finals — smiled and applauded before shaking Jansrud’s hand.
Defago, fastest in Tuesday’s training, was first down the slope in perfect racing conditions, with clear skies and no wind.
With the pressure on, Reichelt failed to get to within more than .15 seconds of Defago’s time, and gradually slipped further behind on the bottom section.
Jansrud could have raced more conservatively, but with the title on the line he pushed from the start, and was .11 ahead of Defago at the first split. He increased his speed at the bottom to finish in 1 minute, 40.86 seconds.
That looked under threat from American Steven Nyman, who was faster on the first two splits before tailing off to finish fourth, .59 adrift of Jansrud.
Jansrud will look to pile more pressure on Hirscher in Thursday’s super-G. There is a team event on Friday before the weekend’s slalom and giant slalom races.
“I have chances tomorrow to make a good race. When it comes to overall, even if I win tomorrow it’s still in Marcel’s control with slalom and giant slalom,” Jansrud said. “I’m going to fight until the end. Marcel’s been skiing well all year, and if he grabs the overall he deserves that.”
Hirscher is also in contention for the slalom title, but trails German Felix Neureuther by 55 points.
In the race for the women’s overall title, Fenninger holds a 12-point lead over Slovenian Tina Maze.