No Retina
XS Screen (480px)
SM+ Screen
SM Screen (768px)
SM- Screen
MD+ Screen
MD Screen (992px)
MD- Screen
LG+ Screen
LG Screen (1200px)
LG- Screen
XL+ Screen (1600px)

Bryce Bennett Wins First Downhill of the Season

By Sierra Ryder - Stifel U.S. Ski Team
December, 14 2023
Bryce Bennett wins the first downhill of the season in Val Gardena. (Getty Images)

In the first men’s speed race of the season, Stifel U.S. Ski Team athlete Bryce Bennett took the win in Thursday’s downhill race in Val Gardena/Gröden, Italy. It was his second victory on the track. 

“Last season I struggled all season long and I worked as hard as I could this summer," said Bennett. "But this year I am feeling confident and I want to continue this not just today, but this whole season." 

After a few days of concerning weather, the sun was overhead and blue skies came through, making for a beautiful downhill day in the Italian Dolomites. It was the first speed race of the season, after two previous speed weekends in Zermatt-Cervinia and Beaver Creek could not go on due to weather. 

The race began from the super-G start and the times were extremely close, with less than one second separating 30th place from first. After 30 races, Aleksander Aamodt Kilde of Norway, the season’s previous downhill globe winner, held the lead, with Swiss phenom Marco Odermatt in second. 

But make way for Bryce Bennett. Bennett blazed down the track running bib 34. His top split immediately on par with the top racers and he kept getting faster and faster. The noise of the crowd was defeaning as Bennett flew over the final jump, punching it to the line with the green light flashing. Bennett roared in the finish, winning his second World Cup downhill in his career. 

“I am speechless," said Bennett. "We have been working really hard with a lot of good camps this summer and I have been showing good skiing but I just love it here. I changed the approach last year and this year and I am just so happy. I wanted a good run today and I just had to let it flow and trust myself.”

Val Gardena has been a beloved place on the Stifel U.S. Ski Team through the years, with legends such as Billy Kidd, Bode Miller, Steven Nyman, Ryan Cochran-Siegle and Bennett having wins and podiums on the Saslong track. And a lot of credit goes to the renowned Fischer serviceman Leo Messi, who now has nine wins on the track between Bennett (2), Nyman (3) and Italian Kristian Ghedina (4). 

The rest of the Stifel U.S. Ski Team squad also came back with strong results. Cochran-Siegle landed a 14th place in the downhill and Jared Goldberg took 18th. Both men skied exceptionally well and are amped for the next two races in Val Gardena.

“I am feeling like I had a good approach mentally and am focusing on the things I do well,” said Cochran-Siegle. “I think this will give me some confidence for the next few days.” 

Stifel U.S. Ski Team athletes Kyle Negomir landed just outside of the 30 in 37th, Sam Morse was 45th and Sam DuPratt made his return to the World Cup tour in 58th place. 

For DuPratt, making it to the finish line was the biggest accomplishment of his day. Three years ago on the exact same track, DuPratt had a large crash and broke both of his legs, taking him out of the sport for the next few seasons. 

“It had to be pretty poetic to have my first World Cup back be in Gardena where I went down three years ago,” said DuPratt. “I think it added to some nerves. I don’t know if I felt them but they were in the back of my head. The fear of crashing again is definitely something I thought about, but it happens and I just need to accept it and work on my skiing. I'm happy to be back and ready for the super-G.” 

The speed men will now prepare for a super-G race in Val Gardena/Gröden Friday with another downhill Saturday. 

Men's downhill

HOW TO WATCH (times in ET)
5:45 a.m. - Val Gardena/Gröden, men’s super-G,
5:45 a.m. - Val Gardena/Gröden, men’s downhill,