Feuz wins Kitzbuehel downhill marked by two heavy crashes

Kitzbühel (Austria) (AFP) –


Urs Kryenbuehl suffered a concussion, a fractured collar bone and knee ligament damage while Ryan Cochran-Siegle sustained a "minor cervical 'spine' fracture" on Friday during the World Cup downhill on a Kitzbuehel course that left French veteran Johan Clarey feeling "angry" at organisers.

In-form American Cochran-Siegle and Swiss racer Kryenbuehl both hit the deck in a wind and crash interrupted race that took nearly three hours and was called off after top 30 had finished. That left the remaining 25 racers without a start.

Kryenbuehl's crash on the savage final jump was particularly horrific. The 26-year-old overpitched as he hit the jump which propels the racers 80 metres in the air in a spectacular ending to the most gruelling race on the World Cup circuit, down the 3.3km-long Streif course.

Kryenbuehl lost control travelling at 146 km/h (91 mph). When he landed, one of his skis snapped as his head ricocheted off the compacted snow. His crumpled body slid over the finish line in a messy heap.

He was evacuated by helicopter.

"The athlete suffered a concussion, a fracture of the right collarbone and a tear of the cruciate and medial ligaments in his right knee," wrote the Swiss Ski team on their Facebook page. "We wish you a speedy recovery and are thinking of you, dear Urs!"

Kryenbuehl adds his name to a long list of racers who have crashed at the same spot, including American Scott Macartney in 2008, fellow Swiss Daniel Albrecht in 2009 and Austrian Hans Grugger two years later.

Swiss skier Beat Feuz, who won Friday's race ahead of Austrian Matthias Mayer and Italian Dominik Paris, said Kryenbuehl's crash had "brought back terrible memories of Daniel Albrecht".

Cochran-Siegle badly negotiated a traverse, catapulting off a bump and shooting spectacularly into the safety netting.

He was quickly on his feet but organisers airlifted him off the course after he complained about numbness in an arm.

The US Ski Team posted several tweets to stress that Cochran-Siegle's injury, a broken spinal vertebra in his neck, was 'minor'.

"Unfortunately, Ryan Cochran-Siegle crashed in Friday's downhill, sustaining a minor cervical fracture," said one Tweet. "He is otherwise OK, thankfully. He is currently resting at the team hotel, but will sit the remainder of the weekend out."

Clarey himself crashed in Thursday's training, but he dusted down his catsuit to finish an impressive fourth.

- 'Too fast' -

"I'm angry at the organisers and the FIS (International Ski Federation)," said Clarey, at 40 the elder statesman of elite racers.

"It's been two days we've been asking to shave the last bump, which is too long.

"You fly 80 metres, arriving at 145 km/h on it."

Clarey added: "We ask them to shave it and in the morning's recce it wasn't lowered. I find them at fault over that.

"The slightest error means there's going to be drama."

The crashes highlighted the conundrum for ski racers: balancing risk management needed on a course like the Streif with the aggression needed to tackle the slope at the limits to which the top competitors can push themselves.

"This jump was easy to correct, but it apparently wasn't done," said Feuz, who finally won at Kitzbuehel after finishing second four times in World Cup downhills and once in a combined.

"There has to be a final finish jump, it's Kitzbuehel, but maybe not that long... It must be reworked from the first training."

A second downhill is scheduled for Saturday, with a super-G on Sunday.

"Tomorrow, I hope for a race without accidents," said Feuz. "It's forecast for snow overnight, so the conditions will be different."