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Vincent Kriechmayr: "Val Gardena/Gröden is one of the absolute highlights"


Last year, Vincent Kriechmayr added a new name to the long list of winners in Val Gardena/Gröden. The 29-year-old Austrian won with a five hundredths of a second lead over Kjetil Jansrud. In a race that, after several weather-related interruptions, lasted for what felt like an eternity. Kriechmayr raced the entire 2019/20 winter at a very high level, impressively demonstrated by his fifth place in the overall World Cup and second place in the super-G classification. In the following interview, the Austrian downhill star talks about his special relationship with Val Gardena/Gröden, his goals for the World Cup winter 20/21 and he also shares his very clear opinion about how Dominik Paris will return after his injury is over.

Question: Vincent Kriechmayr, last year you had to wait a long time after an extremely crazy race until your first victory on the Saslong was certain. With which feelings do you return to Val Gardena/Gröden?
Vincent Kriechmayr: I always like to return to Val Gardena/Groden, not only because of my first victory on the Saslong. I feel very comfortable in the valley.

How important is this success in one of the oldest "classics" of the ski circuit for you personally?
Of course of a very high value. Val Gardena/Gröden, with Wengen and Kitzbühel, is one of the absolute highlights every year.

Pirmin Zurbriggen, Lasse Kjus, Michael Walchhofer and Aksel Lund Svindal are the four racers who won super-G and downhill on the Saslong. Will the name Vincent Kriechmayr be added on December 19, 2020 with a triumph in the downhill?
The four athletes you have just named are among the absolute legends in the history of skiing. To create this outstanding achievement would be incredible. However, the competition is, as every year, incredibly strong. Nevertheless, I will certainly try everything.

Since your super-G victory on the Saslong, world events have been radically changed by the coronavirus pandemic. How have you experienced this situation?
I was not significantly restricted in my summer training. However, like the majority of the population, I was reminded once again what the really important things in life are.

How did the preparation for the season go? Did you have to change a lot - due to the restrictions?
No, not really. Only the overseas training in South America was understandably not possible due to the situation.

In the super-G classification, you finished second in each of the last three seasons. At the end of last winter, you were only three points behind Mauro Caviezel. Does that still bother you a bit?
No, because Mauro was simply three points better in the six super-G races until the end of the season.

Is it enough this year to be at the top?
I'm not worried about that.

What other goals have you set yourself for the upcoming season?
I want to improve everywhere, be it in skiing technique, material and conditioning … just to name a few examples.

You have a lot of precious metal to defend at the World Championships in Cortina. After all, you came back from Åre with silver in the super-G and bronze in the downhill...
Yes, that's right. As always, the World Championships are a big event and it's all about getting the performance on that day right.

While Cortina hopes to host the World Championships with an audience, most of the World Cup races in the 2020/21 season will be held without spectators. Will you miss the support of the fans?
Of course the support of the fans is missing. The fans are extremely important in our sport. Not because we might not ski as well without fans, but because it makes our sport even better when you can celebrate success in front of fans and with fans.

Who do you think is the favorite to win in the fast disciplines this winter?
As every year, the usual names will be in the front. Paris, Feuz, Mayer, Caviezel, Dreßen, Kilde, Clarey etc.

And who are the favorites to win the overall World Cup?
Not much will change from last year. Those who were also among the front runners last year.

Finally, a question that should be of great interest to all South Tyrolean fans: How strong do you think Dominik Paris will be in his comeback season?
Very, very strong. I think "Domme" will return just as strong as he was before his injury.