Innerhofer, whose previous best Downhill finish on Birds of Prey was a pair of 12th place showings in 2009 and again last winter, finished in a time of 1:41.69, 23-hundredths of a second ahead of runner-up Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway, while Svindal’s teammate, Kjetil Jansrud, posted the third fastest time, half a second off the Italian’s pace.
“In the start, I was totally relaxed,” offered Innerhofer. “It felt more like a training run than race day. Coming down the top flats, I was thinking that my friends at home were watching me. Once I got on to the steep section, I knew I had to ski well, but I didn’t push too hard. I just had fun.”
Svindal, on the other hand, needed to press hard following mistakes on the upper sections of the course. The Norwegian, who won both World Cup events last weekend in Lake Louise, was one of the few racers to be able to make up time on the bottom of the run.
“I could tell that I had lost at least half a second on the steeps,” Svindal explained, “and so I had to press hard on the bottom. I was able to make up for some of my mistakes, but not all of them. He (Innerhofer) just skied to fast today.”
Top American finish on the day belonged to Squaw Valley’s Travis Ganong in 16th postion, 1.38 second behind Innerhofer, while another Squaw native, Marco Sullivan, claimed the 18th position.
Other U.S. Ski Team results included Ted Ligety in 31st, Steven Nyman in 31st, Andrew Weibrecht in 37th and Ryan Cochran-Siegle in 39th. Last year’s Audi Birds of Prey Downhill champion, Bode Miller, did not compete Friday, still recovering from micro-fracture surgery on his knee.
The 2012 Audi FIS Birds of Prey World Cup Race Week continues Saturday with Men’s Super-G action at 11 a.m., while Sunday will bring down the curtain with Giant Slalom, with the first run scheduled for 9:45 a.m.
The 2012 Audi FIS Birds of Prey is a project of the Vail Valley Foundation. For additional information on Birds of Prey, visit www.bcworldcup.com.
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