Cuche top man in Sölden

24th October 2009, by Chris Gill

Sölden resort

Sölden resort

Swiss veteran Didier Cuche has raced to victory in Sölden, in the men’s opening World Cup race of the season.

Cuche 35 won the giant slalom on the Rettenbach glacier in combined two-race time of 21.45 seconds, rocketing ahead of teammate Carlo Janka – who took third place behind US competitor Ted Ligety.

Cuche was in third position after the first run, but maintained a superb course and speed in the second to clinch the title.

Austrian giant slalom champion Benjamin Raich finished in fifth place in Sunday’s opening race. Overall champion Aksel Lund Svindal completed the course but is still suffering a knee injury sustained this week.

On for six medals

The Cuche win has delighted the Swiss team, who have been in top form recently and are confident of a healthy set of medals in the forthcoming Winter Olympics in Vancouver Canada. Team president, Urs Lehrmann said they are aiming for six medals at the games, even without injured teenage star Lara Gut – Gut, who won two medals in Val d’Isère last season, crashed in training and is unlikely to race in Canada.

Win for Finland in Sölden – Saturday 24 October

Finland’s Tanja Poutiainen has won the 2009/10 season’s opening World Cup race in Sölden, Austria.

Olympic silver medallist Poutiainen took the women’s giant slalom title by just 0.01 second over home favourite, Kathrin Zettel. The Finn was in third position after the first round, with Italy’s Denise Karbon leading. But Poutiainen stormed to victory in the second round, clipping the tiniest of time margins off Zettel and pushing Karbon into bronze position. Britain’s Chemmy Alcott made a solid start to her racing campaign, finishing in 19th place.

It was a great opener to the World Cup races, which had until last week looked doubtful of going ahead. But the snow arrived just in time to pep up the glacier slopes for the event. Saturday has been gloriously sunny on the Rettenbach, with good snow conditions.

Feeling the pinch

The race might be on, but the financial downturn has been felt on the International circuit. Earlier in the year, ski manufacturers decided not to pay for off-season training camps in the southern hemisphere forcing national federations to seek funding.

In some cases, athletes were forced to provide part of the funding themselves or asked to accept large cuts in their endorsement deals. Many of the top equipment companies reported some troubles – Head has suffered from decreasing sales and a loss in 2009, for example.

But the racers are racing and Sunday looks like another splendid sun n’ snow day on the glacier: a fabulous day’s skiing followed by some top-notch Sölden partying!

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