Kjetil Jansrud wins first ski race on 2018 Olympic course
JEONGSEON, South Korea (AP) — Kjetil Jansrud confirmed he’s the skier to beat on the downhill course for the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics, winning the test event by a comfortable margin Saturday.
The first downhill course in South Korea also won mostly praise from skiers and the International Ski Federation.
“If you want to be the best you have to ski anything,” Jansrud said. “This is more than an acceptable Olympic downhill. The way it’s running now it’s almost a little too fast because the jumps are so big. But that makes it exciting.”
Giving Norway its 17th World Cup win of the season, Jansrud was nearly flawless and clocked 1 minute, 41.38 seconds for a 0.20-second advantage over Dominik Paris of Italy.
Steven Nyman of the United States finished third, 0.41 behind, in perfect conditions with clear skies, cool temperatures and hard snow.
It was Jansrud’s third win of the season and first in downhill after taking the season-long title in the discipline last season.
“This is probably the first run I’ve skied this season without mistakes,” he said.
Jansrud also led both training courses on the newly developed Jeongseon course.
Paris and Nyman each posted their first podium results of the season.
“In the summer I was thinking this is a highlight of the season to come here and to really learn about the culture and learn about what we’re going to experience during the Olympics,” Nyman said.
“I want to feel comfortable and come here with the expectations and I want to do well, too, because I know the Olympics are going to be here in two years,” Nyman added. “I did well and I’m happy. I think the course really suits my skills.”
A super-G is scheduled for Sunday in the first of 28 test events for the next Winter Games.
“Today we put Korea on the map of the international sports world,” Pyeongchang organizing committee chief Cho Yang-ho said. “This is just the beginning.”
While the course is not the most challenging of tests for World Cup racers, it features four big jumps, sweeping turns and is designed for small margins.
“It’s a downhill that is really made for the Olympics,” International Ski Federation president Gian-Franco Kasper said. “It’s not Kitzbuehel or Wengen — that we don’t need for the Olympics.”
It was only the third World Cup downhill held in Asia, and the first in South Korea.
Todd Brooker of Canada won in Furano, Japan, in 1985 and Peter Mueller of Switzerland won at Furano in 1987.
More than 1,000 fans attended the race, which was preceded by an opening ceremony featuring traditional dancers with skis on their backs.
Most of the spectators had to hike 500 meters (yards) up a steep hill to the finish area, since a planned lift for fans hasn’t been installed yet.
There were also cheerleaders to keep the spectators entertained, and many skiers bowed to the crowd after their runs according to the local custom.
Peter Fill of Italy finished fourth and Beat Feuz of Switzerland was fifth.
Jansrud is fourth in the overall standings, which are led by Marcel Hirscher of Austria.
Aksel Lund Svindal, Jansrud’s teammate who will miss the rest of the season following a crash in Kitzbuehel (video here), Austria, still leads the downhill standings by 71 points ahead of Fill. Jansrud is third, 109 points behind.