'Proud' Paris joins Kitzbuehel pantheon of downhill greats

Kitzbühel (Austria) (AFP) –


"Proud" Dominik Paris joined a pantheon of Kitzbuehel legends after screaming down to a third downhill victory on what is regarded as the toughest course on the World Cup circuit on Friday.

Paris, 29, clocked 1min 56.82sec down the gruelling, icy 3.3km Streif course for the win, following up on previous triumphs in 2013 and 2017.

Swiss world champion Beat Feuz was second, at 0.20sec, while Austrian Otmar Striedinger, starting with bib number 27, took full advantage of a rare show of the sun to claim third (+0.37).

Paris also won the super-G here in 2015, meaning that four of his 12 World Cup victories to date have come on the unforgiving Streif run down the Hahnenkamm mountain.

With his downhill win, Paris joins Austrian Karl Schranz, Frenchman Luc Alphand and Swiss duo Franz Heinzer and Pirmin Zurbriggen in having won the discipline three times in Kitzbuehel. Only Austrian Franz Klammer (four victories) and Switzerland's Didier Cuche (five) have won it more.

"I actually don't have the words to describe the emotion I'm feeling," said Paris, whose 2013 world downhill silver medal in Schladming is his best achievement at world championships or Olympics -- he came fourth in the 2018 Pyeongchang Games downhill.

"It's not normal to win three times on this hill."

His prediliction for the Streif saw Paris bag the winner's purse of 74,000 euros, with his mind immediately focused on Sunday's rescheduled super-G, with the slalom set for Saturday.

- 'A little party' -

"I'm very happy for today. We'll maybe have a little party," joked Paris, who becomes the first racer to win two downhills this season after also winning in Bormio.

"And then tomorrow I'll recover for the super-G.

"The super-G is a very important race too. It's as important for me as the downhill."

Paris admitted, however, that he hadn't felt in great shape at the start gate, with 50,000 baying fans crowded around the arrival area.

"I didn't actually have a good feeling about it, but before the downhill I thought to myself: 'Just get on those skis and go for it'," the Italian said.

"It is a great feeling. I risked everything and it paid off."

Paris added: "Beat (Feuz) is skiing so well, when I heard his time I knew it was not going to be easy to beat him.

"It means a lot to me to win here. It makes me very proud."

It was more frustration for Feuz, whose second place was the third time he has finished in that spot in Kitzbuehel.

But the Swiss racer, who maintains his lead atop the World Cup downhill standings, put a brave face on things.

"I'm definitely happy with the way things went," he said.

"Tomorrow will be a welcome day off after so much racing of late."

Striedinger notched up just the second podium in seven seasons of racing with his third-placed finish.

"To be honest, I never dreamed this would happen," said Striedinger, with favoured teammates Hannes Reichelt and Matthias Mayer finishing eighth and ninth and the trio of Max Franz, Johannes Kroell and Christian Walder all skiing out.

"It is a dream come true, that's for sure," he said.

"Passing the finish line and seeing the time on the monitor, I was like 'Are you serious?' I couldn't believe it."