Last year's winner opens the downhill classic
After the cancelled super-G, the highlight of the 55th Saslong Classic is the downhill on Saturday. This will be opened by none other than Bryce Bennett, the winner of the downhill classic in 2021.
Bennett raced to his first (and so far only) World Cup victory last year in Val Gardena/Gröden with a powerful race. Whether the American can repeat his coup of last year still has to be seen: Bennett has not yet been able to get going this season - he also had to settle for a disappointing 29th place in the downhill on Thursday.
The Anerican Travis Ganong, German-Austrian Romed Baumann and the two Italians Matteo Marsaglia and Christof Innerhofer - who by the way celebrates his 38th birthday on Saturday follow Bennett ahead of the absolute downhill world leaders take their turn. Local hero Dominik Paris is the first of the top group to take to the course with bib number 6. Immediately after him, it's the turn of Switzerland's Beat Feuz (No. 7) and Thursday's downhill fourth-place finisher Johan Clarey (No. 8).
The triumphant skier of the first Val Gardena/Gröden downhill, Vincent Kriechmayr from Austria, is hunting for a Saslong double gold with bib number 9. His teammate Matthias Mayer, who is also one of the favorites, has been assigned bib number 11. Two of the hottest contenders for the day's victory will be at the end of the top group: Aleksander Aamodt Kilde from Norway will race with bib number 14, followed immediately by overall World Cup leader Marco Odermatt (Switzerland) with number 15.
The last of a total of eight Italian racers to take to the Saslong is Florian Schieder from Kastelruth. The 26-year-old, who put down a solid performance in the first downhill with a strong 13th place, has bib number 53 on his chest.
The downhill classic on Saturday will feature 65 athletes from 16 nations. The race, which will be contested by racers wearing bibs sponsored by the specialized local beer brewery FORST, will start at 11:45 am.
The complete starting list for the downhill is available here.