In front of his countrymen, Didier Cuche delivered his 4th downhill title in dramatic fashion.
“I heard that I made it thrilling until the finish,” Cuche said. “In the first few curves I wasn’t really awake, but it went better and better.”
Trailing Michael Walchhofer for the crystal globe and skiing right after him as the light began to fade, his 4th place finish was enough to beat his rival who finished 11th. Needless to say, the 8,000 plus spectators cheered loudly and praised their 36 year old ski racing hero.
Photo: AP/Alessandro Trovati
Final tally, a 12 point margin of victory 510-498. After an emotional week amid speculation that he would retire after a confrontation with World Cup race director Guenter Hujara, he raced running on fumes after not sleeping much. He held a press conference on Tuesday and said he plans on returning to the World Cup next year. “I’m continuing out of pure fun and not because I have to prove anything to anyone.”
“I started my turbo too late in my career,” joked Cuche, who won his first downhill title in 2007 at 32. With this victory he has 4 World Cup downhill titles, second only to Frans Klammer with 5.
First place went to Adrien Theaux of France, Joachim Puchner of Austria finished second, just 0.01 behind and Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway was third.
American Ted Ligety was 19th in extemely challenging light conditions and will ski the super G on Thursday and race giant slalom Friday and Slalom Saturday. Ligety is leading the giant slalom overall standings by 77 points.
Ted said this about Didier Cuche’s performance, “It’s cool. It’s impressive, especially with what he can do at his age, [Cuche, 36] especially in downhill. To bring himself down a hill like this, especially in such flat light, and he has to throw it down because of the title is just a testament to him that he was able to still get fourth place. He would have been two seconds faster if he ran earlier in the sun shine, for sure. It’s really testament to how good he is.”
“He’s the best guy to watch in the downhill. It’s not like he some of those other downhill skiers that slide their way around turns and still end up fast. He is truly a great technician in the downhill side of it and he’s the most badass in the guy in the air.”
“You just can see anything, especially with how warm it is right now. Running late was a big disadvantage because it got super super bumpy. There were big chuckles and you couldn’t really see. If you’re in Cuche’s position where you have to hammer hard, it’s worth him to hammer through and take those risks. But in my position it’s not really worth hammering through holes you can’t see and you probably have a 30 percent chance of blowing out and taking a big digger. In those kinds of conditions it’s just not worth taking a big risk.”
“It’s a technical race. We raced here a couple years ago and I didn’t do well, but I think I wasn’t as good of a GS skier back then either. It’s definitely going to be a technical hill for sure for GS.”