Home wins in Wengen and Cortina

14th January 2012, by Chris Gill

Under the Eiger

Under the Eiger

New Swiss ski star Beat Feuz has taken the famous Lauberhorn downhill title in Wengen on Saturday 14 January. And in Italy, there was a surprise in the ladies competition as Italian veteran Daniela Merighetti won the Cortina downhill.

Feuz, 24, put in an super run to win in Wengen in a time of 2 minutes, 35.31 seconds, delighting the home crowd. Austria’s Hannes Reichelt was 0.44 seconds back in second. Christof Innerhofer of Italy took third place. A costly error in the latter stages of Bode Miller’s run meant that the US athlete couldn’t better his fifth place position.

Miller said he took what proved to be the wrong line in the Hannegschuss section, a stretch of the course where skiers reach speeds in excess of 90 mph. And it looked a little bumpy by then too. However, Miller did manage a third place in the Wengen super combined race on Friday 13 January. Crotia’s Ivica Kostelic triumphed again to win.

And there was disappointment too for Swiss veteran Didier Cuche, usually a fine contender at Wengen; but this year finished down the pack. It was hoped that Cuche might win his first Lauberhorn race, having previously been runner up on three occasions; but it was not to be.

The four times World Cup champion is trailing behind his younger teammate in the downhill standings, but is third in the overall standings behind Hirscher and Kostelic. At 37, he may have missed his last chance on the Lauberhorn but Feuz hopes Cuche will “continue for one more year and give it another try.”

Conditions were good in Wengen, bright and sunny, and the resort saw a record turnout crowd of 38,000 to watch the prestigious event. It meant that all but one of the 58 starters completed the course.

Meanwhile, the ladies competition moved on to Cortina in the Italian Dolomites. Here it was another home win as Italian veteran Daniela Merighetti took the downhill title ahead of Lindsey Vonn, despite a broken thumb. Merighetti clocked in at 1 minute, 33.17 seconds on the Olympia delle Tofane course.

Vonn, the overall World Cup leader, was 0.21 seconds behind. Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany was third. Giant slalom world champion Tina Maze of Slovenia finished fourth.

Merighetti, 30, has been enjoying a super season so far and, according to local reports, is the first Italian woman to win a downhill since Elena Fanchini at Lake Louise, Alberta, six years ago. To put her win into perspective: her only other top-three finish was second place in a giant slalom in Are, Sweden, nine years ago.

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