Mayer leads Austria 1-2 in men’s WC downhill race

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Matthias Mayer of Austria celebrates on the podium after placing first during the Audi FIS Ski World Cup Mens 2021 downhill skiing championship race on Saturday. AFP

Two-time Olympic gold medallist Matthias Mayer powered to victory in the opening men’s World Cup downhill at Lake Louise, Canada, on Saturday, leading Vincent Kriechmayr in an Austrian one-two.

Mayer clocked 1min 47.74sec to win, dislodging Kriechmayr who had set a target with the first run of the day of 1:47.97.

Switzerland’s Beat Feuz, the four-time defending World Cup downhill champion, was third in 1:48.09.

Saturday’s race was originally meant to be one of two downhills at Lake Louise, but heavy snow forced the cancellation of Friday’s race.

The men are scheduled to race a super-G on Sunday to cap the speed weekend in the Canadian Rockies.

The 31-year-old Mayer, who won Olympic downhill gold at Sochi in 2014 and super-G gold at Pyeongchang in 2018, signalled he’s got plenty left in the tank with the 2022 Beijing Winter Games approaching.

He captured the seventh World Cup downhill victory of his career with his latest success at Lake Louise, where he won the super-G in 2019 before the coronavirus pandemic caused the North American fixtures to be dropped last season.

Mayer professed himself “completely satisfied” with the victory.

“The slope was rough, visibility was poor, it was relatively fast and really difficult,” he said in comments posted on the Austrian team website. “I am overjoyed with the win.”

In a season that will be highlighted by the Olympics he was also delighted to see three Austrians in the top five, with Max Franz (1:48.30) finishing fifth behind Swiss Marco Odermatt.

“The team performance is excellent, our skiing is good and we can go into the next races free,” Mayer said.

While Odermatt didn’t make the podium, the 24-year-old winner of the opening giant slalom in Soelden in October posted the best downhill result of his career and took the solo lead in the overall standings with 150 points. Mayer and compatriot Christian Hirschbuhl are in second on 100 points each.