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Travis Ganong, set to retire, ends U.S. men’s Alpine skiing podium drought in Kitzbuehel

Aleksander Aamodt Kilde wins the downhill in Kitzbuehel, while Travis Ganong finishes third.

American Travis Ganong appears headed into retirement with a podium in the biggest annual Alpine skiing race.

Ganong finished third in the famed Hahnenkamm downhill in snowy Kitzbuehel, Austria, on Saturday, one day after saying he plans to retire at the end of this season at age 34.

“My goal all season was to perform here. This is the biggest race,” said Ganong, who skied in front of Lindsey Vonn and Arnold Schwarzenegger. “If that was my last run down it, I am pretty happy. I love this hill. My goal is always to win here, but to podium would be pretty good, too.”

Aleksandr Aamodt Kilde won to become the first man with five World Cup downhill victories in one season since Austrian Stephan Eberharter in 2001-02.

The Norwegian fractured a bone in his right hand during Thursday’s training, then needed an acrobatic recovery in the race the next day to escape a fall near the end of his run, which he called “scary.”

Frenchman Johan Clarey finished second, 67 hundredths behind. At 42 years old, Clarey broke his own record as the oldest Alpine skier to make a World Cup podium, doing so for the second time this season.

Ganong was 95 hundredths back to become the first American man to make an Alpine World Cup podium since December 2021. In 2022, no U.S. man made a World Cup podium in a year for the first time since 1998.

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Ganong was seventh in the first of two Kitzbuehel downhills on Friday, after which he voiced retirement plans.

“I’m pretty ready to start doing some new things,” Ganong said, according to The Associated Press. ”It’s been 18 years on the U.S. team. I’m happy with what I’ve done. I’ve been among the best for a long time.”

The California native Ganong’s career highlight was taking downhill silver at the 2015 World Championships in Beaver Creek, Colorado. It remains the best finish in an Olympic or world championships downhill for a U.S. man since since Bode Miller and Daron Rahlves went one-two at the 2005 Worlds.

Ganong’s best Olympic finish was in his first Olympic race, fifth in the downhill at the 2014 Sochi Games. It is the best U.S. men’s downhill finish in the last three Olympics.

Ganong has two World Cup wins, later in 2014, then in January 2017. He then tore an ACL in a downhill crash in Bormio, Italy on Dec. 28, 2017, ruling him out of the 2018 Olympics and ending that season.

Ganong came back to make his fifth and, until Saturday, most recent World Cup podium in December 2021, then placed 12th and 20th in two Olympic races last year.

The last American to make a Kitzbuehel downhill podium was Miller in 2014. Rahlves is the only American to win a World Cup downhill in Kitzbuehel, doing so in 2003.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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