The Alpine Skiing World Cup Finals in St. Moritz started with the downhill races on Wednesday.
Feuz Winner In Men's Race, Downhill Title For Fill
The Swiss Beat Feuz won the race in his home country, his first victory in over four years. The 2012 overall and downhill World Cup runner-up has had an injury-plagued career, having lastly suffered an Achilles injury that kept him out for the first half of this season. However, once he returned, he had made the podium three times before the victory in St. Moritz.
In second place was another skier with an impressive second half of the season. Steven Nyman of the USA achieved his four consecutive downhill podium, losing only 0.08 seconds to Feuz. In third place finished Erik Guay, 0.54 seconds from Feuz. That was the first podium in over two years for the Canadian who missed the 2014-15 season due to a knee injury.
In the downhill World Cup title battle, Peter Fill, Dominik Paris, Kjetil Jansrud, and Adrien Théaux were aiming to beat the injured Aksel Lund Svindal for the title. Dominik Paris was the first of the title contender on the course. On the only training run on Tuesday, Paris had crashed and hurt his left leg. That may have affected his performance in the race; the winner of the previous two downhill races finished his run only in 13th place, enough for the title only if the other contenders performed even worse. That didn't happen; Paris finished the race only in 19th place and scored no points.
Adrien Théaux was the next title contender on the course, needing finish in top two to have any title chance. Also Théaux had a poor run and finished the race out of points in 16th place. Théaux was followed by the defending downhill champion Kjetil Jansrud. Jansrud had a strong start, leading after the first half of the slope, yet he had a poor finish and finished in fourth place, out of title contention.
Peter Fill concluded the race and the downhill title battle, needing a top-15 result to surpass Svindal for the title. Fill had a good start into his run, leading after the second split by 0.10 seconds. Yet then he started losing time, crossing the finish line 1.36 seconds behind the winner Feuz, still enough to claim the discipline title with a 10th-place finish.
Peter Fill became the first Italian to win the men's World Cup title. In the end, his gap to the second-placed Aksel Lund Svindal was 26 points despite Svindal missing the last five races. Dominik Paris and Kjetil Jansrud tied in third place with Paris having two wins as opposed to Jansrud's one. The winner of St. Moritz, Beat Feuz, finished the season in downhill rankings' fifth place, only 48 points behind Fill despite missing the first four downhill races of the season.
Maiden World Cup Win For Puchner In Women's Race
The women's downhill race was won by Mirjam Puchner, starting with the bib No. 4. The victory was the first World Cup podium for the 23-year-old Austrian. In second place, 0.13 seconds behind Puchner, finished Fabienne Suter of Switzerland. Suter was the only woman from the group of top-seven skiers to make the top 10 in the race that was run in poor visibility. The podium was completed by Elena Curtoni of Italy who made the most of starting as early as ninth into the race, losing 0.17 seconds to Puchner.
Daniela Merighetti made her last World Cup appearance in St. Moritz. The Italian who achieved one World Cup race win in her career had an unfortunate farewell race; she lost control of a jump, crashing heavily into the safety nets. Fortunately she was able to stand up and ski down into the finish area.
Having secured the downhill World Cup title before the last two races she missed due to a knee injury, Lindsey Vonn had traveled to St. Moritz to receive the champion's crystal globe trophy. Fabienne Suter climbed from fourth into the second place of the downhill standings, bumping Larisa Yurkiw who scored no points for her 17th-place finish into third place of the standings.
The overall World Cup leader Lara Gut didn't impress in the downhill race, finishing only in 13th place. However, her overall title got its final seal as her only healthy title challenger Viktoria Rebensburg failed to finish, keeping the gap at over 300 points with three races remaining. The injured Vonn also seems likely to remain in second place of the overall standings as her gap to third-placed Rebensburg is over 200 points and Rebensburg doesn't compete in slalom.
The World Cup Finals continue on Thursday with the women's super-G at 10:00 am local (5:00 am ET) and the men's super-G 11:30 am local (6:30 am ET). The discipline World Cup titles are open in both of Thursday's races; the women's title scenarios are explained in this article and the men's title scenarios in this article.