Kilde seeks to seal downhill dominance
The men’s downhill kicks off the World Cup Finals on Wednesday, and the blue riband event looks likely to be a three-way battle.
Norway’s 30-year-old Aleksander Aamodt Kilde is contesting his 10th FIS World Cup season and, like a fine wine, is improving with age.
He has clocked more points this term than in any of his previous years, and has won the downhill crystal globe at a canter, despite the best efforts of the brilliant Vincent Kriechmayr (AUT), who lies second, and Odermatt in third.
It is Kilde’s duel with Odi that everyone will have their eyes on, however, as the Swiss racer pipped him to the biggest downhill prize of the year at last month’s World Championships in Courchevel Meribel.
The Norwegian is all about unbridled power and skiing on the limit. Kriechmayr is a classic Austrian downhill practitioner, and, while Odermatt is not yet a master of the discipline, his strength and bulletproof mentality under pressure always increase the heat on his big friend and rival.
Beyond this trio, Johan Clarey (FRA), Mattia Casse (ITA) and James Crawford (CAN) have all been putting in robust performances and can upset the big three to grab podium positions.
Triple tussle in super-G
Thursday’s super-G will inevitably involve the same cast of characters – except with the betting odds skewed slightly.
It is Odermatt who will leave the start gate as favourite in this one, with Viking Kilde in situ as the man trying to steal his thunder. Kilde has managed two wins, two second places and a third this year in super-G, and will hope for a course that is as fast and straight as possible to cater to his tastes.
Kriechmayr will be ready to pounce should either man falter, while Alexis Pinturault (FRA) seems to be coming into form at the right time for Soldeu.
There’s always room for a surprise, too: James Crawford (CAN) has had an average super-G World Cup but came out of nowhere to win the World Championship title with an awesome display of power and poise.
Crawford, Andreas Sander (GER) and Stefan Rogentin (SUI) will all seek to make their mark.
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