Saslong Classic Club / Gardena - Gröden
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Bennett takes his first World Cup victory in the downhill classic


Big surprise in the downhill classic on the Saslong: The American Bryce Bennett outdid the entire competition in the highlight of the Val Gardena/Gröden race week claiming his first World Cup victory with a bold performance.

Bennett took advantage of the bright sunshine and snatched his first gold with a time of 2:02.42 minutes. Even though the 29-year-old has repeatedly produced strong results at the base of the the Sassolungo/Langkofel mountain in recent years, his victory still comes as a little surprise: in his 106 World Cup starts to date, Bennett has never finished better than fourth - now he is beaming from the highest step of the podium with his first top-three result in the World Cup.

Behind Bennett, two other racers who were not exactly expected to place on the podium completed the top three. Otmar Striedinger from Austria lost 14/100 to the day's winner and finished second, while Niels Hintermann from Switzerland came in third, 32/100 behind. For both athletes it was the first podium finish this winter. Hundertstel Rückstand an dritter Stelle. Für beide Athleten war es der erste Podestplatz in diesem Winter.

Paris misses the podium by a hair's breadth
A convincing performance was also given by local hero Dominik Paris, who finished the race in fourth place. The powerhouse from the Ulten Valley was on course for winning the race for the longest time before losing time in the Ciaslat falling behind the fastest three. While oldie Johan Clarey (France) and Beat Feuz (Switzerland) finished a few hundredths behind Paris in fifth and sixth place, the "Azzurro" Mattia Casse, who started with the high bib number 34, came in a strong seventh.

In addition to Paris and Casse, only one other racer from the Italian team collected World Cup points in the downhill classic, Christof Innerhofer (17th). All the other local racers had to settle for places outside the top 30 or were eliminated.

Kilde in bad luck
The Norwegian Aleksander Aamodt Kilde was one of today’s tragic heroes of the downhill: the 29-year-old outstanding skier, who had started as the undisputed top favorite, was eliminated after a leading best time and remained without points one day after his victory in the super-G. Unfortunately, the result of the downhill was a disappointment.

The complete list of results for the downhill is available here.