ASPEN, Colo. (AP)Aleksander Aamodt Kilde earned his second consecutive World Cup downhill title by winning Saturday’s race by more than a half-second.
The Norwegian collected his sixth victory in nine downhills this season, allowing him to join Stephan Eberharter as the only male ski racers in the past 45 years with that many. Eberharter did it in 2001-02 and 2002-03; before that, the last man with at least a half-dozen downhill triumphs in one season was Franz Klammer in 1977.
“It’s been a fantastic season. … I would never expect anything like that,” said Kilde, who was supported by a group of relatives, including his parents, and friends in the crowd.
“Just got to keep on pushing,” he said with a smile, “and try to do it next year again.”
Skiing a tight line under a partly cloudy sky Saturday and brushing aside gates with his elbows, the two-time 2022 Beijing Olympic medalist Kilde completed the course in 1 minute, 31.6 seconds. His triumph came hours after his girlfriend, Mikaela Shiffrin, wrapped up her fifth career World Cup overall title by tying for fifth place in a downhill at Kvitfjell, Norway.
“It’s hard to put a finger on what exactly we do, but I think just the support we give each other every day is what brings us to the results we have and to the moments like this,” Kilde said, calling himself “proud” of Shiffrin, who is one victory shy of Ingemar Stenmark’s career record of 86 World Cup wins.
“We do a lot of things together and we support each other, no matter what,” he said.
James Crawford of Canada was second to Kilde, 0.61 seconds behind, with overall men’s World Cup leader Marco Odermatt of Switzerland next, O.63 off Kilde’s pace. Vincent Kriechmayr of Austria, who came into the day second in the downhill standings and with an outside chance of catching Kilde for the discipline title, was fourth-fastest on Saturday, 0.70 back.
Kilde and Odermatt are tied for the World Cup season lead with a total of eight race wins apiece.
Bryce Bennett was the top U.S. finisher on Saturday in 10th place. Travis Ganong, a silver medalist in the downhill at the 2015 world championships, came in 17th in what he says will be his last race in the United States before retirement at age 34. Steven Nyman was the last of 60 entrants to leave the starting hut Saturday – wearing a denim vest, he took a casual trip, pausing to stop for hugs with coaches lining the course, and crossed the finish line with a U.S. flag held aloft – in what marked the end of his racing career at 41.
The circuit’s stop in Aspen concludes with a super-G on Sunday.
A downhill scheduled for Friday was scrapped after just 24 racers because of snow and fog; 30 are required to make an event official.
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