KITZBUEHEL, Austria (AP) — Dominik Paris won the classic Hahnenkamm downhill Friday for the third time, earning the nickname “King of the Streif.”
Under dark clouds and light snowfall, the Italian raced down the 3.3-kilometer course to beat downhill leader Beat Feuz of Switzerland by 0.20 seconds.
Right after the race, he was dubbed “Il Re della Streif” on the Italian ski team’s Facebook page.
“It’s not normal to win three times on this hill. It’s just amazing,” Paris said. “It’s not easy to beat Beat. I am very proud of that.”
Paris’ previous downhill wins on the Streif came in 2013 and 2017. He is the seventh racer with at least three victories on the course, and only Didier Cuche (five) and Franz Klammer (four) have won more.
It was the sixth downhill of the season, but Paris became the first man to win twice. He also triumphed in Bormio, Italy, four weeks ago, where he won both the downhill and the super-G.
Paris could complete a similar speed double in Kitzbuehel if he also takes Sunday’s super-G, an event he once won, in 2015.
“Like in Bormio, you need power and technique because you are racing to your limits. But you also need the right feeling,” said Paris, who celebrated his 10th career victory in downhill and 12th overall.
Paris certainly had the right feeling on the challenging and notoriously dangerous course Friday. Wearing bib No. 13, he trailed Feuz by a quarter of a second at the second split time but stayed on the ideal race line for the rest of the course.
“I really went to the limit today, but I love the Streif,” Paris said. “It’s one of the courses that challenges you to take the extra risk, and I love the risk.”
Beaten by the Italian, Feuz missed out on the coveted Streif win once again, finishing runner-up for the third time.
“But I am over the moon,” Feuz said. “My run was extreme on the limit. I gave everything. If someone else is two-tenths faster and wins here for the third time, you have to accept that.”
None of the pre-race favorites came close to the Italian’s time, but Paris’ victory still came under threat when the skies suddenly cleared and some sunshine came through, giving lower-ranked starters better visibility.
Otmar Striedinger, who started 27th, took advantage and finished only 0.37 behind in third. Austrian teammate Daniel Danklmaier, who wore bib No. 41 and had won a Europa Cup downhill on the same course Monday, raced into fifth place for his best career World Cup result.
Several pre-race favorites missed the event because of injuries.
Last year’s winner, Thomas Dressen of Germany, is out for the season with a torn ACL, and Norwegian duo Aksel Lund Svindal and Kjetil Jansrud picked up injuries this week.
Svindal’s persistent right knee problems became acute again after Tuesday’s training run on the Streif. The Olympic downhill champion won’t compete anymore prior to the world championships, which start in Are, Sweden, in the first week of February.
Jansrud broke two bones in his left hand when he tried to break a fall in Tuesday’s training. He underwent surgery and is also doubtful for the worlds.
Paris’ victory so shortly before the worlds has made the Italian one of the main contenders for gold in Sweden.
In the season’s World Cup standings, Paris climbed to second place with 320 points, still 100 short of Feuz, who reached his fifth straight podium in the discipline — which includes a victory in Beaver Creek, Colorado.
Paris’ Italian teammate, Christof Innerhofer, is third with 260 points. On Saturday, Innerhofer trailed Paris by 0.93 seconds in fourth place.
Alexander Koell of Sweden crashed and had to be taken off the hill by helicopter, but the Swedish team later said he had escaped without serious injuries.
The Hahnenkamm races continue with the slalom on Saturday, followed by a super-G the next day. The initial program, which had the downhill scheduled for Saturday, was changed to avoid the marquee event getting affected by predicted snowfall and rain over the weekend.
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