Arvidsson Scores First World Cup Points with Top-10 in Saalbach Downhill to Lead Americans
Middlebury College’s Erik Arvidsson—the 2016 World Junior Downhill Champion—staked his claim on the FIS Ski World Cup on Saturday, finishing eighth to lead two Americans into the top 10 in Saalbach, Austria’s downhill.
Unfortunately, Friday's downhill was canceled after nine racers, just before Jared Goldberg, when thick fog and snow rolled in. Saalbach was a replacement for the Wengen and Kvitfjell speed races, which both had to be canceled due to Covid-19. The weather cleared for Saturday’s downhill, and despite the fact that the track was a bit bally, the conditions were surprisingly good given Friday’s weather.
Austria’s Vincent Kriechmayr showed his strength with his fourth-straight speed victory, though his first downhill victory since 2019. Switzerland’s Beat Feuz was second, just .17 seconds off Kriechmayr’s pace, with Austrian Matthias Mayer in third, .27 seconds out.
Bryce Bennett, who was testing some new skis in the training runs, went back to his normal set-up for race day and had a solid run, skiing confidently and snagging a top-10 result on the day—the final downhill prior to World Cup Finals in Lenzerheide, Switzerland. The top 25 athletes from each discipline get a start at World Cup Finals, and with his finish, Bennett moved up to 19th in the downhill ranking.
Arvidsson, who came into the weekend fresh off his second Europa Cup downhill victory, started bib 34 to finish eighth, with an astounding run. As teammate Ryan Cochran-Siegle said in his Instagram story, Arvidsson got his first World Cup points, first top 20, first top 15, and first top 10 all in one day. This success is not necessarily surprising to those who have followed Arvidsson’s trajectory. As the 2016 World Junior downhill champion in Sochi, Russia, Arvidsson has a natural touch and is an incredibly gifted athlete. In 2018, Arvidsson decided to take an unconventional path that worked well for him, attending Middlebury College and getting some valuable experience. It more than paid off.
Following the first training, Arvidsson mentioned to the coaches that he felt he could be top 15 on the Saalbach track. “Obviously today was pretty incredible for me, I never could have imagined that I could have had a result like this at the beginning of this season, but going into the week, the momentum has definitely been building,” reflected Arvidsson. “In the first training run, I felt like I could pull it together on this hill and put down a good run. The top is really technical and has a lot of turns, which definitely suits my style, and I just had to clean up some things on the flats, and I was able to do that today and put together a good run.”
Land Rover U.S. Alpine Ski Team head men’s speed coach Randy Pelkey, who coached Arvidsson at the development level for three years and coached him to that gold in Sochi at World Juniors, was eager to take him in as an invitee, knowing his potential. “His progression this year has been to get quality repetition on speed skis while keeping the GS going,” commented Pelkey. “We made a several-year plan and he has been taking the steps to learn and improve every chance he gets. We are still focused on the process and enjoying that process.”
Arvidsson is thankful for the opportunity, and the work the U.S. Ski & Snowboard staff has done this season. “I’m really, really happy and super thankful to the whole team and my service guy, and all of the coaching staff for all of the work they’ve put in this year,” he added. “I’m definitely going to enjoy it and see what we can do tomorrow too.”
Travis Ganong and Jared Goldberg also started for the Americans but finished outside of the 30. Sam Morse, who had solid training runs, was having a great run with top 25 splits but he DNFed. He is OK.
Feuz leads the downhill standings with 486 points over Mayer, with 418 points. Switzerland’s Marco Odermatt (869 points) closed the gap that France’s Alexis Pinturault (1,034) has in the overall race to 165 points. For the Land Rover U.S. Alpine Ski Team, Cochran-Siegle ended up ranked 14th in downhill, followed by Ganong in 18th, Bennett in 19th, and Goldberg in 23rd.
Up next for the men is super-G on Sunday to close the weekend in Saalbach, Austria.
HOW TO WATCH
All times EST.
Saturday, March 6
11:00 p.m. FIS Alpine World Cup Men’s Downhill - same-day broadcast, Saalbach, AUT, Broadcast NBCSN
12:00 a.m. FIS Alpine World Cup Women’s Slalom - same-day broadcast, Jasna, SVK, Broadcast NBCSN
Sunday, March 7
3:30 a.m. FIS Alpine World Cup Women’s Giant Slalom, run 1- LIVE, Jasna, SVK, Streaming Peacock
4:30 a.m. FIS Alpine World Cup Men’s Super-G - LIVE, Saalbach, AUT, Broadcast Olympic Channel, Streaming Olympic Channel and Peacock
6:30 a.m. FIS Alpine World Cup Women’s Giant Slalom, run 2 - LIVE, Jasna, SVK, Broadcast Olympic Channel, Streaming Olympic Channel and Peacock
11:00 p.m. FIS Alpine World Cup Women’s Giant Slalom - same-day broadcast, Jasna, SVK, Broadcast NBCSN