Aleksander Aamodt Kilde wins first Wengen downhill; American clinches Olympic spot
WENGEN, Switzerland — The rivalry between Aleksander Aamodt Kilde and Marco Odermatt emerged again Friday in a World Cup downhill.
Kilde edged Odermatt by 0.19 seconds to win one day after his Swiss friend had won a super-G in another duel on the storied Lauberhorn hill.
Beat Feuz was third Friday, 0.30 behind the Norwegian winner, while seeking a record fourth win in his home country’s classic race.
Kilde’s second downhill win of the season earned him 100 points and lifted him to the top of the season-long discipline standings. Still, the 2020 overall World Cup champion barely cut the gap on Odermatt in the overall standings.
Odermatt’s relentlessly consistent results have built an overall lead of nearly 400 points with his six wins compared to Kilde’s five from 19 events.
A runner-up finish in Odermatt’s first-ever downhill in Wengen was impressive for being faster than Feuz, his favored teammate and a four-time defending World Cup downhill champion.
The hard-packed snow and bright sunshine on a cold day ensured fast racing with Bryce Bennett hitting a top speed above 93 mph in his seventh-place run, 0.95 behind.
The American’s peak speed came on the Hanneggschuss straight where in 2013 the World Cup record of 100.6 mph was set by Johan Clarey. Now 41, the Frenchman placed 14th on Friday.
Another downhill on the Lauberhorn will be raced Saturday.
Bennett, the top American downhiller, became the second U.S. male Alpine skier to clinch an Olympic spot thanks to a previous World Cup downhill win on Dec. 18.
Bennett, a 29-year-old ranked ninth in the world in the downhill, is going to his second Olympics after finishing 16th and 17th in the downhill and combined in 2018.
Travis Ganong previously clinched an Olympic spot via super-G results. Ryan Cochran-Siegle and River Radamus are likely to sew up their spots later this weekend before the full team is named next week.
The U.S. currently has six men’s quota spots and nine women’s quota spots and could gain more. Mikaela Shiffrin, Breezy Johnson, Paula Moltzan and Nina O’Brien clinched spots on the women’s team.
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