By Christoph Lother, dpa
Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy (dpa) – Austria’s Vincent Kriechmayr became only the third man to claim a speed event double at the alpine ski world championships on Sunday when he pipped German Andreas Sander by the smallest possible margin for downhill gold.
Kriechmayr was first out and no one managed to better his time as he got his second gold following Thursday’s super-g triumph.
Surprising Sander came closest skiing right after him and was beaten by one-hundredth of a second for his first podium of any kind, and 2017 champion Beat Feuz of Switzerland took bronze.
Only compatriot Hermann Maier in 1999 and American Bode Miller in 2005 have achieved the speed double before, and Kriechmayr also became the first Austrian since Michael Walchhofer in 2003 to win the blue-riband event.
Sander, with several top 10 finishes over the years but no real breakthrough delighted in his biggest career success rather than being upset about missing the gold by a fraction as he gave Germany a third silver in Cortina following Romed Baumann in the super-g and Kira Weidle in the women’s downhill.
“You can’t make a better pick for the first podium,” he said. “I am quite speechless. I didn’t expect a medal after my ride. The hundredths doesn’t hurt at all.”
Two-time season winner Feuz was almost three-quarters of a second midway through but made up ground in the lower section and trailed by a mere .18 of a second, saying that with such a deficit “gold would have been possible” but that “I will definitely sleep well tonight.”
Italian top contender Dominik Paris, who had topped both training runs, had to be content with joint fourth with Swiss Marc Odermatt, dismissing the course as “a giant slalom.”
Two-time Olympic champion Matthias Mayer did not finish and Norwegian title holder Kjetil Jansrud was eighth from 42 starters.
French skier Maxence Muzaton avoided a heavy crash with an extraordinary 360-degrees turn while Baumann crashed under the padding in the finish area.
The German suffered facial injuries but is expected back Monday for the alpine combined. The women also have their combined Monday after both events fell victim to bad weather earlier in the week.