Winter sports blog: Didier Cuche wins at Lake Louise”Ž

Andrew Magee takes a look at all the latest news and views from the snow and ice on the winter sports circuit

didier cuche
Didier Cuche won the first men's World Cup downhill race of the season C Jansky, via Wikimedia

didier cuche

Welcome to The Sport Review’s new winter sports blog, featuring all the latest news and views from the snow and ice. We’ll be catching up with the people on the piste as the winter sports circuit gets back under way.

Mens Skiing: Cuche is cushty

Switzerland’s Didier Cuche won the first men’s World Cup downhill race of the season at a snow-covered Lake Louise in Canada on Saturday.

Despite nearly retiring from the sport at the end of last season, the 37-year-old’s 18th career victory saw him extend his own record of being the oldest winner of a World Cup race.

Cuche, who also won in Lake Louise two years ago, clocked a time of 1:47.28, beating Swiss teammate Beat Feuz to second place by just 0.06s while Austria’s Hannes Reichelt finished third, 0.08s behind the leader.

Cuche said: “In Spring I was thinking about the future and knew I had to work hard to stay on this level.”

“Getting old makes it harder to stay in good shape, but I did the work. It might not have been fun every day but I did it. And it paid off today.”

Britain’s Dougie Crawford finished 65th with a time of 1:52.85 but was left frustrated after a mistake.

The 24-year-old said: “I was pretty disappointed with my result. I skied well on the top section with some good split times but made a major mistake on the main steep pitch.

“That cost me a huge amount of time and speed on the lower half of the piste, leaving me much further behind than I had hoped.”

The men’s tour continues this weekend with the downhill, Super-G and Giant Slalom at Beaver Creek, Colorado.

Super Svindal

Aksel Lund Svindal prevented Didier Cuche from completing a dramatic double as he clocked a time of 1:23.47 to win a technically tough course in Sunday’s Super-G.

The Norwegian finished 14th in Saturday’s downhill but showed his class on Sunday, beating Cuche by 0.23s and France’s Adrien Theaux, who finished third, by 0.64s.

The 28-year-old said: “Cuche looks as good as ever, so you have to try put down a good run to beat him, and on Sunday, I definitely got one.

“I was a bit disappointed about the downhill; I was not able to carry the speed all the way down. So the Super-G on Sunday was a whole lot better.”

In windy conditions at Lake Louise, nine racers did not complete their runs, including Britain’s TJ Baldwin.

The result sees Svindal second in the overall World Cup standings on 140 points, trailing early leader Didier Cuche by 40 points. The USA’s Ted Ligety is in third on 100 points.

Home hero Hudec

The story of the weekend belonged to Canada’s Jan Hudec.

The Czech-born skier, who won the downhill in Lake Louise in 2007, suffered a serious knee injury in 2008 and has never reached the same levels since.

But, despite facing tough conditions and skiing wearing bib number 44, Hudec stormed home in Sunday’s Super-G to claim fourth in front of a delighted crowd.

Women’s Skiing: Schild’s Play

Marlies Schild dominated the opening women’s World Cup slalom race in Aspen, her combined time of 1:43.72 over a second quicker than second placed Maria Pietilae-Holmner.

The Austrian veteran has now won all but one of her slalom races she has entered since she earned silver at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Schild, 30, said: “I’m so happy with the result. The first race is not easy. You’re always thinking, “˜was my training good enough? Are my skis good?’ But I think everything is fine so far.”

Schild sits fourth in the overall World Cup standings on 124 points. Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg tops the table with 180 points after she won the Giant Slalom in Aspen.

Special mention to the USA’s Mikaela Shiffrin, who finished 8th at the grand old age of 16 in only her second World Cup slalom start.

The youngster made her World Cup debut in March but is on the tour full time this season.

The women’s World Cup continues where the men left off, heading to Lake Louise this weekend for the downhill and Super-G.

Other briefs

Olympic champion Christine Nesbitt and Stefan Groothuis both won 1000m gold for the second consecutive week at the ISU Speed Skating World Cup in Astana, Kazakhstan. Nesbitt won by 1.3s while Groothuis was not quite so comfortable, beating fellow Dutchman Kjeld Nuis by just 0.07s.

Austria’s Andreas Kofler won both the individual and team titles as strong winds delayed the first Ski Jumping World Cup in Kuusamo, Finland. Kofler, a double Olympic champion, helped Austria beat Japan into second placed by over 100 points.

Olympic luge champion Felix Loch was in blistering form as he won the first Luge World Cup event of the season at Inglis, Austria, setting two track records in the process. Britain’s Adam Rosen finished 26th.

Norway’s Petter Northug caused controversy as he cockily crossed the line in Norway’s cross-country ski relay win. Beating his rivals in a sprint finish, Northug removed his poles and dusted his shoulders down as he finished.

The 25-year-old bad boy did the same thing in March this year and has already irritated the Norwegian media this season by claiming he was only interested in winning the Tour de Ski in January, saying the season would be over for him after that.

And finally: Our winter wonder fact of the week

Why do people go to watch ice hockey? For some it’s the speed and skill of the skaters; for others, the occasional punch up over the puck. For fans of the Detroit Red Wings, it’s about the seafood.

Since 1952 fans have thrown octopuses onto the ice after an important win. It all started during a Stanley Cup run when brothers Pete and Jerry Cusimano, who owned a local fish shop, threw an octopus onto the ice during a home game.

Eight victories used to be required to win the Cup, so the eight-legged beast was a nice symbol. Fans continue to throw them to this day, the heaviest being a 22.5kg whopper in 1996.

Men’s World Cup Overall Standings:

1 Didier Cuche (Switzerland) 180 points
2 Aksel Lund Svindal (Norway) 140 points
3 Ted Ligety (USA) 100 points
4 Adrien Theaux (France) 100 points
5 Hannes Reichelt (Austria) 95 points
6 Beat Fuez (Switzerland) 91 points
7 Klaus Kroell (Austria) 90 points
8 Bode Miller (USA) 87 points
9 Romed Baumann (Austria) 81 points
10 Alexis Pinturault (France) 80 points

Women’s World Cup Overall Standings:

1 Viktoria Rebensburg (Germany) 180 points
2 Elisabeth Goergl (Austria) 140 points
3 Maria Pietilae-Holmner (Sweden) 125 points
4 Marlies Schild (Austria) 124 points
5 Lindsey Vonn (USA) 122 points
6 Kathrin Zettel (Austria) 91 points
7 Anna Fenninger (Austria) 90 points
8 Julia Mancuso (USA) 86 points
9 Tanja Poutiainen (Finland) 70 points
10 Maria Hoefl-Riesch (Germany) 67 points

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