Aleksander Aamodt Kilde (NOR) has finally captured a title at Lake Louise (Agence Zoom)
On a downhill course that requires a mistake-free run, Aleksander Aamodt Kilde (NOR) did just that in Lake Louise, Canada.
Kilde’s time was easily good enough to win the first speed race of the season. The defending downhill world champion set a stunning mark of 1.47.98 and no one would best him.
Even though it was early in the season, the win comes as a huge relief for Kilde.
“Coming off a really good season last year and taking the globe, comes with a lot of pressure. So winning the first race is always nice. You know the speed is there and you are doing something right and can just keep going,” said Kilde. It is a good sign for the skiing star as he sets out on his downhill title defense.
Elsewhere in a loaded field, Daniel Hemetsberger (AUT) took a surprise second place with a time of 1:48.04.
It is only the second-ever podium for the 31-year-old Austrian skier. Even Hemetsberger did not expect such a finish.
“I am also really surprised. I had a good preparation this summer ahead of these races. I didn’t think I was fast enough for a podium. But today it went really well, and I am happy,” said Hemetsberger.
Aside from expectations and a tough course, Hemetsberger was also battling pre-race jitters.
“But before the race you don’t know anything. Today I had a lot of tension in my head, but I tried to focus only on my skiing and it really worked out,” said Hemetsberger.
A familiar name rounded out the podium in third. Marco Odermatt (SUI) came in just off the pace of Hermetsberger with a time of 1:48.08.
The rising superstar has yet to capture a downhill title after four podiums in downhill World Cup races last season. Yet the 25-year-old was pleased with his best ever time at Lake Louise.
“It is a great result for me. Downhill is very different to giant slalom so it is nice to be on the podium in downhill again. It was a very good run on my side. I was not super-fast in the last split and that is probably where I lost the victory,” said Odermatt.
The reigning overall world champion knows these downhill points will be key as he tries to defend his crown. Kilde leads a hungry pack who will try to knock him off his perch.
“I think downhill will be the key discipline again this year for the overall title. I think one of my biggest rivals Alex (Kilde) showed his ambition for the overall title as well. So, he will try to beat me and we will have many more fights this season,” said Odermatt.
Dominik Paris (ITA) will look to bounce back after a crash at Lake Louise (Agence Zoom)
Behind the podium, Dominik Paris (ITA) suffered an early crash and did not finish. The strong skier was fortunately uninjured.
After making the podium at Lake Louise in 2021, Matthias Mayer (AUT) and Beat Feuz (SUI) just missed their repeat opportunity finishing 4th and 5th respectively.
Vincent Kreichmayr (AUT) came in second in the downhill here at Lake Louise last season but settled for 11th this time around.