Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR; 1:58:07 minutes) before Erik Guay (CAN; +0.41 seconds): In the first training run on the Saslong today the same two racers who dominated the first training last year were ahead again. But Svindal knows: A training run is not a race, after all he is still waiting for his first downhill victory here in Val Gardena. Dominik Paris (ITA) caused the first "highlight" of the day: The winner of Lake Louise fell in the Ciaslat meadow, but was able to ski down to the finish and "only" suffered minor bruising.
Aksel Lund Svindal has won the Super G here in Val Gardena twice, but never the downhill. Last year, Svindal came to Val Gardena with four podium finishes and left the rest of the contenders far behind in the two training runs. During the actual race Svindal was thwarted by the fresh snow and an unfavourable start number.
The first training run has confirmed that Svindal is in top form and might be able to fill that white Val Gardena spot on his list of successes. However, training and race are, once again, two completely different matters, especially when the weather is not completely stable. Behind Svindal are Erik Guay (+0.41 seconds), Silvan Zurbriggen (SUI; +0.77), Kjetil Jansrud (NOR; +0.82 sec) and Hans Olsson (SWE ; +0.97 sec). The good placements of Zurbriggen and Olsson were especially surprising as they had start numbers 47 and 72.
After last year’s difficult season, the Swiss downhillers recovered well and demonstrated it today in the first training run: in addition to Zurbriggen, two further Swiss skiers placed in the top 10: Patrick Kueng (+1.17 sec) and Didier Defago (+1.26 seconds).
Matthias Mayer was the fastest Austrian in 8th place behind Defago. The Austrians achieved three further top 15 placements: Otmar Striedinger (11), Georg Streitberger (12) and Florian Scheiber (13).
The South Tyroleans did not do as well as expected. The Saslong, at least for the downhill, is not easy for the "Azzurri”, even if they were able to prove themselves in previous speed races. Peter Fill was the best of the Italian team in 17th place (+2.11 sec), Werner Heel came in 21st (+2.27 sec) and Christof Innerhofer 25th (+2.33 sec).
It was even worse for Dominik Paris. He caused the only moment of shock in today’s training run. The South Tyrolean from Ultimo was lifted up on one of the waves in the Ciaslat meadow and crashed into the safety nets. But the winner of Lake Louise was able to ski down to the finish himself and probably “only” suffered minor but painful bruising in his left thigh. There were no further falls today.
Tomorrow the second training run will take place here in Val Gardena. We will be commenting again live on www.saslong.org, the live results will be available on www.fis- ski.com.