Swiss Beat Feuz celebrates after winning the men’s World Cup downhill in Wengen, Switzerland on Saturday. (Marco Trovati/Associated Press)
(PhatzRadio / CBC Sports) — New Swiss ski star Beat Feuz won before his home fans Saturday in Wengen, Switzerland, capturing a World Cup downhill on the classic Lauberhorn course while Bode Miller seemed poised to win but made a tactical error and finished fifth.
“It’s a bummer,” said Miller, a two-time Lauberhorn winner.
Feuz was timed in 2 minutes, 35.31 seconds on the longest course on the World Cup circuit for a victory that gave him the lead in the downhill standings in his breakout season. Austria’s Hannes Reichelt was 0.44 seconds back in second. Christof Innerhofer of Italy trailed Feuz by 0.49 in third.
“It’s unbelievable to win this race in front of the Swiss fans,” said the 24-year-old Feuz, who was second in Friday’s super-combined after dominating the downhill leg.
Miller was in excellent position but lost speed near the bottom and finished 0.77 back. Miller led the downhill standings going into this race but dropped to second, 41 points behind Feuz.
“I think [Feuz] is one of the best, well-rounded dynamos we have seen,” Miller told The Associated Press. “It’s not surprising to see him on the top today after the way he skied [Friday].”
“It probably cost me the race there,” he said. “I swung out left and got right into all these bumps and my skis went a little bit crazy. You are too tired to make a good recovery.If you know a section you should trust yourself and I didn’t do that today. It definitely cost me.”
Swiss veteran Didier Cuche, racing immediately after Feuz, appeared cautious on the 2.75-mile track and trailed from the first intermediate time check, finishing 1.44 behind.
Cuche, a three-time runner-up on this course, appeared dejected when he crossed the line and barely managed a rueful smile for fans chanting his name.
The 37-year-old racer’s long-standing status as Switzerland’s top downhill racer, with four World Cup titles in the glamour discipline in the past five years, seems under threat from Feuz.
Feuz leads the downhill points race after finishing runner-up to Cuche at Lake Louise, Alberta, and behind Miller at Beaver Creek, Colo.
He climbed to third in the overall standings behind Marcel Hirscher and Ivica Kostelic after his third World Cup victory. He also won the downhill at Kvitfjell, Norway, last season and the super-G last month at Val Gardena, Italy.