November 26, 2011
Cuche makes World Cup downhill history at Lake Louise
By DANIEL AUSTIN, QMI Agency
Another chapter was written in the legend of Didier Cuche during Saturday’s action at the Lake Louise Winterstart World Cup.
The 37-year-old Cuche became the oldest skier to win a World Cup alpine race, beating the record he established in January, and ensured the Swiss national team secured bragging rights over their Austrian rivals in the first race of the World Cup season.
Cuche finished on top of the podium with a time of 1:46:28, while 24-year-old compatriot Beat Feuz finished as runner-up, .06 seconds behind him.
Although Cuche had previously won the men’s downhill event at Lake Louise in 2009, last season’s overall downhill winner said he was surprised by Saturday’s result after a couple of slow training runs earlier in the week.
“My first training run didn’t go so good, and in my second run, I lost two seconds,” he said. “I knew it was windy today, and I didn’t really know if I was good enough to do as well as I did today.
“I had to laugh when I saw the green light for me.”
For Feuz, finishing behind his boyhood hero made his podium finish that much sweeter. It was the third podium finish of Feuz’s short career, and it gave the Swiss squad a boost over the Austrian team, who finished in the next three spots in the standings.
“It’s great for me. The first downhill race of the season, and the first podium,” Feuz said. “Didier is the greatest in the downhill, so for me to be in second place is perfect.”
Calgarian Jan Hudec was the top finisher among Canadian skiers for the second year in a row, finishing in 12th place in 1:48.33.
The result was somewhat unexpected for Hudec, who was recovering from a recurring back injury and had only begun full training two weeks before the race.
While Hudec suffered a small slip in the middle of his race, he started strong and was able to recover his speed on the course’s lower half.
“All things considered, I had one of the best runs of my life,” Hudec said. “I knew I could make up some time at the bottom of the course because that’s sort of my bread and butter.”
Robbie Dixon, from North Vancouver, B.C., finished second among Canadians with a time of 1:48.90, good enough for 25th overall. Dixon said the Canadian team was feeling more confident than they were at this time last year after a solid summer of on-snow training and said he believed his result was a step in the right direction.
“I’m pretty happy with the approach and my mental state,” Dixon said. “My head was feeling good, and right now, it’s just about getting consistency.”
Benjamin Thomsen, from Invermere, B.C., finished 34th with a time of 1:49.12, while 2011 world champion Erik Guay finished in 44th with a time of 1:49.42.
Despite posting the second fastest time in training on Friday, Guay said he hadn’t expected a particularly good result on race day.
“I’ve been saying all week that I wasn’t expecting big things coming into this weekend,” Guay said. “The skiing isn’t there on command at the moment, and I’m just happy to get the first one under the belt.”