Once again, the Saslong has provided for a surprise victory: Silvan Zurbriggen from Switzerland has never been on a Downhill podium and was able to leave the competition and most likely winners of this race behind winning by 6/100 of a second ahead of Romed Baumann from Austria. This is also the first podium for Baumann. Didier Cuche made it back on the podium winning bronze, missing the opportunity to bring home the gold.
Zurbriggen ahead of Baumann and Didier Cuche: this is the result that nobody would have betted on. 27-year-old Zurbriggen has had a strong start in Downhill this season placing an unfortunate fourth place twice, but going straight for gold here on the Saslong is still a bit of a surprise.
World Cup circuits’ oldest 41-year-old, Patrik Jaerbyn, was in the lead for a long time until he was displaced by Ddier Cuche who has never been able to capture the Downhill gold here in Gardena-Gröden. He might have thought 2010 to be his lucky year since neither Klaus Kröll nor Michael Walchhofer were able to match his time. But then his fellow team-mate Silvan Zurbriggen crashed Cuche’s dream of a Downhill Saslong gold. Cuche had already won silver twice but had to content himself with a third place at the end as also Romed Baumann succeeded in blowing Cuche’s dreams. He squeezed between the two Swiss- athletes skiing 6/100 behind Zurbriggen and taking silver.
Walchhofer’s missing record making wasn’t the only less-than-optimal news. Our local favorites fared even worse with the final training run’s leader Christof Innerhofer clocking a 1.7 seconds delay, The race went a little better for Peter Fill and Werner Heel who while not making headlines, both made it into the top-ten.
There were also a few horror moments with two French athletes taking spectacular falls. David Poisson fell on the Camel Humps and Johan Claret on Ciaslat. Thankfully, both skiers got right back up but will have a few bruises to show for it tomorrow. The only silver lining for the French team was a 6th place for Guillermo Fayet who started with a distant 49 bib.
By the way: this is not the first time a Zurbriggen wins in Gardena-Gröden. Silvan’s name-sake Pirmin won the Downhill in 1983 and the Super-G in 1989. The gold on the Saslong has boosted Zurbriggen to the top of the Overall World Cup rankings.