Dressen looks to better Norwegians for Kitzbuehel double

3 min

Kitzbühel (Austria) (AFP)

Germany's Thomas Dressen was an injury-enforced spectator at the men's World Cup downhill in Kitzbuehel last year, but is back and keen to repeat his winning run of 2018.

Two years ago, the 26-year-old Bavarian was a surprise winner on the most feared of all downhills, benefiting from a late start number as the clouds cleared to allow the sun out and massively improve visibility.

A season-ending knee injury followed, meaning Dressen missed out on the 2019 world championships in Are, Sweden.

"I had it under control," Dressen said after training in Kitzbuehel. "It was fun."

The Streif piste down the Hahnenkamm mountain was "nice to ski", said the German who this season won the downhill in Lake Louise and registered third places in both the Val Gardena super-G and the testing Wengen downhill.

"If you have won it before, you know what you have to do."

That is not understatement on a course where, at times, the gradient is 85 percent.

The course falls, snakes and rolls, sending competitors barreling through a wide variety of terrain, in parts propelling them 60 metres in the air, only for them to quickly re-align for icy traverses that severely test technical ability and mastery of well-honed equipment.

- Paris out -

Dressen can become just the second active skier to twice win on the Streif in the World Cup, after Dominik Paris.

Italy's Paris, a three-time downhill winner in Kitzbuehel (2013, 2017, 2019), has been ruled out of Kitzbuehel after rupturing his knee ligaments in training, an injury that has seen his season cut short.

It is instead left to other familiar names to take up the challenge posed by Dressen down a course that sees skiers hit 100km/h (60mph) within eight seconds of leaving the startgate.

Norway's Kjetil Jansrud and French veteran Johan Clarey topped times for training on Wednesday and Thursday.

The 39-year-old Clarey has some history in Kitzbuehel, having finished third in the 2017 downhill and second in last season's super-G, two podium finishes of just six in a career that kicked off in 2004.

Jansrud, reigning world downhill champion and Olympic silver medallist in the discipline at Pyeongchang in 2018, won the 2015 downhill in Kitzbuehel and is always competitive.

Jansrud will also have teammate Aleksander Aamodt Kilde in the running, the latter putting together a season that could see him pushing for the overall World Cup crystal globe.

"I've been stable in the top-10 which is for me something new compared to the last two seasons," Kilde told AFP.

"It's from not being injured for a couple of years, having a consistent training and always working to find the right set-ups, the right skis, the right way to ski.

"Now my package is good. I'm still missing those wins and those few tenths (of a second) to be on the podium every race. But I'm close... That's going to be my goal for the next races."

Also in contention for the downhill will be local favourite Matthias Mayer, gold medallist in downhill at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and in the super-G in 2018, and Switzerland's Beat Feuz, winner of the most recent downhill in Wengen and three times second-placed in Kitzbuehel.

Mayer won the super-G in 2017 here, while Germany's Josef Ferstl is last season's winner in the discipline in which Jansrud is the standout performer with 12 career World Cup victories, more than any other active skier.

Schedule (all times GMT)

Friday: super-G (1030)

Saturday: downhill (1030)

Sunday: slalom (0930, 1230)