Marcel Hirscher powered to
the slalom lead only to be
It was a small crowd for
the Hahnenkamm — only
The 72nd Hahnenkamm
In 1932 a gallon of gasoline was about 10 cents, the Lindbergh baby was kidnapped, Amelia Earhart became the first woman to solo a transatlantic flight, and Ferdl Friedensbacher won the downhill, Hans Ma-riacher the slalom and Gordon Cleaver the combined as the first Hahnenkamm was held in Kitzbuehel.
Today, there is nothing subtle about the Hahnenkamm. That helps make it readily understandable to almost
anyone. It’s obvious that the downhill is a race you must first survive, and that winning takes something special. Perhaps this explains the popularity among those thousands who arrive by the steady stream of trains,
and the bedecked celebrities who come by jets and luxury cars.
This season at Hahnenkamm, there was also a weather factor, which no doubt cut back on the volume of
spectators. Crowd estimates were low by Kitzbuehel standards, a paltry 30,000.
Often termed “rough” or “bumpy,” in 2012 Kitzbuehel’s Streif course was by any measure smoother, with
better compacted snow than veteran skiers expected. Those veterans reveled in the conditions on Tuesday’s cloudy opening training run. Klaus Kroell ( 31 years old), Mario Scheiber ( 28), Didier Cuche ( 37) and
Bode Miller ( 34) were the four fastest down.
The next day, under a blue sky and with slightly colder temperatures it was Cuche with Kroell and Johan
Clarey ( 31) on top of the finish order. American Travis Ganong, in his second year of challenging the track,
crashed on the final pitch — the Zeilschuss — and learned one more of the many lessons the Streif can
teach. “I felt pretty relaxed,” he said, “which is pretty funny considering I was sliding backwards and upside
down.” Maybe the “soft” snow helped keep him anxiety-free.
Organizers were worried, correctly, about an approaching storm front. When a mix of rain and snow slathered the course Thursday officials decided to cancel the third training run and try to preserve the good condition of the track. “The racetrack is like a raw egg right now,” said FIS race director Guenther Hujara. “We
have to take special care.”
Didier Cuche, one of three (with Franz Klammer and Karl Schranz) four-time winners of the Hahnenkamm
downhill, took the opportunity to announce he would retire at the end of the season, giving himself a bit more
incentive for race day and 500-plus journalists something to write about.
“Kitzbuehel represents something for me and I decided to make my decision here,” an emotional Cuche
said. “It’s not a decision that I took last night or today. I am in top form and I can still aspire to win races. It’s
in this condition that I wish to retire from the World Cup.”
With snow at the top, rain at the bottom and ankle-deep slush around town, it looked glum for both the super
G on Friday and the Hahnenkamm Saturday.
Super G wasn’t added to the Hahnenkamm program until 2000 and, quite frankly, is served up as an appetizer for the main course of the weekend. It was canceled before some of the racer’s alarms went off.
Downhill, Jan. 21
As rain continued to soak Kitzbuehel, organizers were reporting that the course was in fine condition. The
local populous rallied, calling the mayor to see if they could help. They were told to meet at the bottom