Kriechmayr wins Wengen downhill after controversial Covid ruling

·2-min read
Austria's Vincent Kriechmayr (AFP/Fabrice COFFRINI)

Austria's Vincent Kriechmayr made the most of a controversial bending of the Covid-19 rules by alpine skiing's ruling body to win the men's World Cup downhill at Wengen on Saturday.

Kriechmayr denied Switzerland's Beat Feuz a fourth win on the mythic Lauberhorn slope by 34 hundredths of a second.

But the Austrian was only in the line-up after a crucial intervention by organisers the FIS.

After a positive coronavirus test the world downhill and super-G champion emerged from isolation on Wednesday, too late for training runs on Monday and Tuesday for the longest race of the World Cup season.

Taking part in the two warm-ups is obligatory to compete in the downhill races.

But Kriechmayr raced in Wednesday's super-G, finishing ninth and on Thursday night the FIS intervened and ruled he could start Friday's downhill where he came in 12th.

On Saturday, he prevailed with a time of 2min 26.09sec to beat Feuz and Italian Dominik Paris who came in third at 0.44sec.

"Obviously I get that people are talking," acknowledged Kriechmayr, embarrased that some of his rivals might suspect him of an underhand move with the Winter Olympics less than three weeks away.

But this "difficult situation" with Covid requires "extraordinary decisions" he suggested, explaining that his positive status had forced him to remain at home without skiing even though he felt "in top form".

He added: "I tried to be at the limit from the top to the bottom, the slope is in super condition and that helped me to win."

"No one skied perfectly," said Feuz, recognising mistakes on the longest slope of the circuit which begins at the foot of the Eiger and the Jungfrau before dipping between two rocks into a hazardous chicane.

"Five days here is tough on any athlete," he smiled.

Norwegian Aleksander Aamodt Kilde followed up Friday's win with seventh place, 0.98sec adrift.

The overall World Cup leader Marco Odermatt, successful in Thursday's super-G moved from Bormio, narrowly missed the podium finishing just 0.02sec behind Paris in fourth.

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