Feuz edges rival Paris to win classic Lauberhorn downhill

<p>
              Switzerland's Niels Hintermann reacts in the finish area of an alpine ski, World Cup men's downhill in Wengen, Switzerland, Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Marco Tacca)
            </p>

WENGEN, Switzerland (AP) — Beat Feuz struck back in his season-long rivalry with Dominik Paris to win a World Cup downhill on Saturday.

Switzerland’s best downhiller showed his mastery of the Alpine nation’s most storied event to win the Lauberhorn race for a third time, matching the record of Austrian great Franz Klammer and delighting his home fans in a 32,000 crowd.

Feuz finished 0.29 seconds ahead of Italy’s Paris down a shorter 2.95-kilometer (1 4/5-mile) course that started lower down the mountain due to overnight snowfall, the first in several weeks at Wengen.

Thomas Dressen of Germany was third, 0.31 behind Feuz. That completed a podium of the only winners of the five World Cup downhills so far this season.

Feuz also won at Beaver Creek, Colorado, and was runner-up and third when Paris swept both races at Bormio, Italy, last month.

“It’s great to have a friend to make the duel,” the 32-year-old Feuz said through a translator, adding he was “glad that two old guys can keep ahead of the young ones.”

Earning 100 points for the win, Feuz retook the World Cup downhill standings lead from Paris by just 16 points. They are almost 200 clear of Dressen in third.

The 30-year-old Paris said: “I’m very, very happy. First time on the podium after a long time trying on this course.”

Feuz also won on the Lauberhorn in 2012 and 2018, and has two more runner-up finishes here. Klammer won three straight at Wengen from 1975-77.

“I only want to think about this history after my career. First, I want to have some more wins,” Feuz said. He now has 13 career World Cup victories and a world championship gold medal in downhill, also on home snow at St. Moritz in 2017.

A key to victory was Feuz’s deft footwork through a technical s-shaped bend approaching a tunnel beneath the mountain train line. He was fastest and best through this section, and gained 0.44 on Paris.

“Feuz just put the whole thing together,” said Bryce Bennett, the best-placed American in seventh, 0.87 back. “Once he came down, no one was going to touch that today.”

The winning time was 1 minute, 42.53 seconds on a course that started just above the signature Hundschopf cliff face jump. The full Lauberhorn distance of 4.27 kilometers takes around 2 minutes, 25 seconds and is by far the longest on the World Cup circuit.

One of the main events in Switzerland’s sports calendar got a traditional flypast 45 minutes before the start. A Swiss airline passenger jet flew in formation with six military fighter jets against a backdrop of blue skies and jagged, snow-dusted mountain peaks at around 3,000 meters (10,000 feet).

The three-race Lauberhorn meeting ends Sunday with a slalom.