Bennett Leads U.S. in 14th at Kitzbuehel
Bryce Bennett (Squaw Valley, Calif.) crossed that fine line between surviving and competing on the Streif in Friday’s FIS Ski World Cup downhill in Kitzbuehel, Austria.
“I crossed the finish line today and I was like ‘that's doable,’’ Bennett said of his potential to win Kitzbuehel someday, after leading the U.S. Ski Team in 14th place on Friday. “I think it's totally possible to be one of the competitive guys here, and I’m looking forward to the future.”
On arguably the world’s most challenging - and historic - downhill track where racers go from zero to 60 mph in less than five seconds, Bennett, who has posted some impressive results this season with four top-10 World Cup downhill finishes, walked away from Friday’s race not only relieved, but also knowing what it finally takes to win in Kitzbuehel. He came into the finish, sighed, and the first words out of his mouth were, "That was FUN!"
“The past years I've just been managing, and managing making it down this track,” said Bennett, who finished 41st in his debut on the Streif in 2017, and 28th last year. “Now I feel like I’m in a position to actually make turns down it, and it was quite an emotional rollercoaster of being a very scared, and having fun. I think I was able to do what I wanted to do, and I'm happy about that.”
Bennett has had a banner season, snagging personal best results at every World Cup venue this season with 12-9-4-4-5 and now 14th, as he continues to show consistency and prove that he’s not a one trick venue pony - establishing a home for himself among the greats on a stacked men’s tour.
Bennett was just 1.45 seconds off the winning time of Italy’s Dominik Paris, who won for the third time on the Streif. Switzerland’s Beat Feuz was second, while Austria’s Otmar Striedinger came out of the 27th start position with some more visibility as the sun came out, to whip the crowd into a frenzy with a third-place finish - his first career World Cup downhill podium.
“I had a plan. I committed to that plan, which I’m happy about,” Bennett said. “I think this week was super good for me to learn - it was a huge learning experience.” The big guy lost some time through the middle of the course in the "Seidlalm" section, with a little bobble on the flats, which is a disadvantage with his 6'7" height since he has a harder time being aerodynamic than anyone else on the mountain. "It's tough to be aerodynamic there," he said. "A lot of people are standing up, and when I stand up it's pretty slow."
Travis Ganong (Squaw Valley, Calif.) was 19th; Wiley Maple (Aspen, Colo.) was flagged off course for the second-straight week and finished 38th on his second attempt; and Jared Goldberg (Holladay, Utah) was 43rd.
Up next, the men compete in slalom Saturday in Kitzbuehel, followed by super-G Sunday.
HOW TO WATCH
All times EST
Preliminary schedule, subject to change
*Same-day delayed broadcast
Saturday, Jan. 26
3:30 a.m. - Men’s slalom run 1 - Kitzbuehel, AUT - NBC Sports Gold
4:00 a.m. - Women’s super-G - Garmisch-Partenkirchen, GER - Olympic Channel-TV, OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
6:30 a.m. - Men’s slalom run 2 - Kitzbuehel, AUT - NBC Sports Gold
10:00 a.m. - Women’s super-g - Garmisch-Partenkirchen, GER - NBCSN*
Sunday, Jan. 27
5:30 a.m. - Women’s downhill - Garmisch-Partenkirchen, GER - Olympic Channel-TV, OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
7:30 a.m. - Men’s super-G - Kitzbuehel, AUT - NBC Sports Gold
9:00 p.m. - Women’s downhill - Garmisch-Partenkirchen, GER - NBCSN*
Monday, Jan. 28
4:00 p.m. - Men’s downhill and super-G - Kitzbuehel, AUT - NBCSN**
Tuesday, Jan. 29
11:00 p.m. - Men’s slalom - Kitzbuehel, AUT - NBCSN**
All streams are available via desktop (NBCSports.com/Live, NBCSports.com/Gold andOlympicChannel.com) as well as mobile, tablet and connected television platforms. The NBC Sports app, NBC Sports Gold app and Olympic Channel app are available on the iTunes App Store, Google Play, Windows Store, Roku Channel Store, Apple TV and Amazon Fire. Exclusive commercial-free coverage will be available for subscribers of the NBC Sports Gold Pass.