Calm fore­cast clears way af­ter long wind de­lay

The Palm Beach Post - - SPORTS - By Gra­ham Dun­bar

JEONGSEON, SOUTH KOREA — Show time in the Olympic men’s downhill is to­day — four days later than planned.

Calm air and cloudy skies are fore­cast for Jeongseon, where the snow sur­face is harder and faster af­ter a pound­ing by strong winds since Sun­day’s orig­i­nal start date was post­poned.

“It will be show time,” race di­rec­tor Markus Wald­ner told The As­so­ci­ated Press on Wed­nes­day, ex­pect­ing respite from gusts up to 45 mph. “We will see some big ac­tion.”

The fa­vorites re­main the same: world cham­pion Beat Feuz of Switzer­land, plus Nor­way team­mates Ak­sel Lund Svin­dal and Kjetil Jan­srud, who were both among the four fastest in a short downhill sec­tion of Tues­day’s com-


bined event.

The fastest man Tues­day was Thomas Dressen, rid­ing a tail­wind down the moun­tain. As if for good luck, the Ger­man racer has again cho­sen to wear the No. 1 bib, sched­uled to start first at 11:30 a.m.

Feuz’s team picked first and took No. 5 for him. Nor­way played a wait­ing game, tak­ing No. 7 for Svin­dal and No. 9 for Jan­srud. Lead­ing the Amer­i­can chal- lenge, Bryce Ben­nett will start at No. 14.

Up­set spe­cials

Five of the past 10 men’s

Olympic downhill champi- Close races ons were with­out a win in Men’s Olympic down­hills World Cup races, in­clud­ing tend to be close, and so was Matthias Mayer of Aus­tria Tues­day’s re­hearsal in the at the 2014 Sochi Games. com­bined event.

“Any given day, any­thing Dressen was only 0.07 can hap­pen,” said Svin­dal, sec­onds faster than Svin­dal, a peren­nial fa­vorite who and 0.13 ahead of Mayer. got downhill sil­ver in 2010 Four years ago, Mayer and was fourth in 2014. took gold only 0.06 sec

Why? Svin­dal’s best theonds faster than Christof ory is that Olympic ti­tles In­ner­hofer of Italy — trans- are usu­ally won on cour­ses lat­ing to a mere 5½-foot not raced on the World win n ing mar­gin down Cup cir­cuit, so are unfa- the long­est-ever Olym­mil­iar to all. pic course. Jan­srud, the

Some re­cent greats — bronze medal­ist, trailed Bode Miller, Di­dier Cuche, by only 0.10.

Her­mann Maier — were It was even tighter on the never Olympic downhill 2010 Van­cou­ver Olympic cham­pi­ons. podium. Di­dier Defago of Switzer­land was 0.07 ahead of Svin­dal, and Bode Miller was 0.09 be­hind in bronze.

Tech­ni­cal merit

The race could be won and lost on tiny de­tails tough to iden­tify on first sight.

“It’s go­ing to be a race of per­fec­tion,” said Manuel Os­borne-Par­adis, the Cana­dian vet­eran of four Olympics.

The 15/6-mile course is not too steep — top speeds hit around 78 mph — and if the wind sub­sides, does not of­ten throw rac­ers off bal­ance.

It does launch them off four jumps and de­mands a pre­cise line to carry speed across the side hills and through turns.

Un­der­rated Aus­tria

Aus­tria is al­most an un­der­dog de­spite win­ning seven of 18 men’s down- hill ti­tles at the Olympics.

Still, most pre­race talk is about other na­tions.

Yet Aus­tria will field a typ­i­cally deep four-man team con­sist­ing of skiers who each placed on a podium in World Cup down­hills since De­cem­ber.

Join­ing Mayer are 2017 world cham­pi­onship bronze medal­ist Max Franz; Hannes Re­ichelt, a mul­ti­ple World Cup down- hill win­ner; and Vin­cent Kriech­mayr, who won Satur­day’s fi­nal of­fi­cial prac­tice.

Age records

Two vet­eran medal con­tenders, Svin­dal and Re­ichelt, can set Olympic age records.

Svin­dal, who turned 35 in De­cem­ber, and Re­ichelt, whose 37th birth­day was in July, would be the old­est Olympic cham­pion in any Alpine event.

The record is held by Re­ichelt’s long­time Aus­tria team­mate Mario Matt, who won slalom gold at the 2014 Sochi Games one month be­fore his 35th birth­day.


Bryce Ben­nett will lead the United States con­tin­gent in the men’s downhill to­day in Jeongseon, where the snow sur­face is harder and faster af­ter a pound­ing by strong winds.

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