Bennett Third-Straight Downhill Top Five
Under the sunshine in front of 40,000 fans, Bryce Bennett (Squaw Valley, Calif.) grabbed his third-straight FIS Ski World Cup downhill top five on the classic Lauberhorn track in Wengen, Switzerland.
The Americans haven’t had a solid finish in Wengen on the 2.7 miles (4.4 km) Lauberhorn downhill - the longest downhill on tour - since the Daron Rahlves-Bode Miller era. In fact, the last time an American landed in the top five in Wengen was Bode Miller in 2014, with a fifth place. Bennett showed that today was the day for that to change.
Bennett, who ran bib 18, watched teammate Steven Nyman’s DNF on TV before he ventured to the start gate. “I didn’t see much of it,” he said. “I just saw him flipping upside down in the fastest part of the course (the Haneggschuss) and I was like, ‘Ooooh, huh...don’t do that.’” Nyman did indeed DNF, as he caught his inside edge and crashed, but got up right away and was thankfully OK, skiing down to the finish.
Running third, the Attacking Viking Aksel Lund Svindal laid down a fast run taking a unique line in the Hundschopf section of the course, and as he went through the Jungfrau tunnel, a train passed overhead. It is said that if the train is going by as a downhiller passes through the tunnel, it is a good omen. Unfortunately for Svindal, the omen didn’t hold true, as the Swiss with red bib Beat Feuz came down nearly four tenths ahead of Svindal - eventually landing in second, then Austrian Vincent Kriechmayr came down blazing fast, to steal the Lauberhorn victory from the homeboy Feuz. Finally, Svindal’s teammate Aleksander Aamodt Kilde came down in third, pushing Svindal from the podium.
Bennett, who has snagged personal best venue results at each World Cup this season with 12-9-4-4-5, respectively, 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. He led three Americans into the points, with teammate Travis Ganong (Squaw Valley, Calif.) finishing 24th and Jared Goldberg (Holladay, Utah) landing in 30th.
“Feels good to be in the top five here in Wengen,” reflected Bennett. “I did pretty well here last year - I think I was 17th - and I knew there were some sections I needed to clean up. Luckily this year we had the opportunity to go from the top again. It was perfect weather, cold conditions...couldn’t have been a better Lauberhorn.”
Bennett, channeling his inner Bode Miller, made up time in the bottom half of the course after not meeting his expectations in the vital top section. “I knew I needed to make time up in the upper sections of the course, and that first left-foot turn is so important to carry speed, otherwise you can’t get it back. And, I didn’t ski it well,” he laughed. “I went out there and it was kind of soft, and the ski didn’t react quite the way I was anticipating it to, and I tried to hold on as best I could. I thought I skied the bottom half of the course well. I won in one section, and through the super-G turns I was really committed to going straight - I was trying to remember Bode’s line. I’m happy. Another top five - that’s far beyond my expectations of the season, so I just have to keep focusing on the skiing aspect and not get too caught up on trying to win. But one of these days it’s going to come.”
Many of the top skiers - including Nyman and Austrians Max Franz and Matthias Mayer - DNFed, as the conditions were bulletproof and the snow was really reactive underfoot, which allowed for athletes to really go for it and risk a lot. Up next for the men is slalom in Wengen before the athletes head to the biggest classic of them all: the legendary Hahnenkamm in Kitzbuehel, Austria.
“Generally, I haven’t quite figured out Kitzbuehel yet,” Bennett said. “I have some learning to do, so hopefully this year I can maybe put a run together.”
HOW TO WATCH
All times EST
*Same-day delayed broadcast
Sunday, Jan. 20
4:15 a.m. - Men’s slalom run 1 - Wengen, SUI - OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
5:00 a.m. - Women’s super-G - Cortina d’Ampezzo, ITA - Olympic Channel-TV, OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
7:00 a.m. - Men’s slalom run 2 - Wengen, SUI - Olympic Channel-TV, OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
7:00 p.m. - Men’s downhill - Wengen, SUI - NBCSN**
8:00 p.m. - Women’s downhill - Cortina d’Ampezzo, ITA - NBCSN**
9:00 p.m. - Women’s super-G - Cortina d’Ampezzo, ITA - 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.