Squaw Valley’s Bryce Bennett 9th in Kitzbuehel combined
KITZBUEHEL, Austria — It’s the biggest weekend in ski racing, and a couple new faces are not only soaking in the experience, but stepping up their game to come away with valuable World Cup points at the Audi FIS Ski World Cup combined Friday.
Squaw Valley skier Bryce Bennett, who has enjoyed a breakout season this year, finished ninth, while Drew Duffy scored his first World Cup points in 27th at the alpine combined event.
Bennett scored World Cup points for the fourth time this season with two solid runs, on a technical, icy track.
“It feels real good to get some second runs, get into the top 30, score some points, have some good results and feel OK about yourself,” Bennett said, knowing that the biggest race of his young World Cup career is Saturday in the Hahnenkamm downhill. “I’m doing (the Hahnenkamm) for the first time. I can see the line that you need to take, but I’m on the fence about committing to it, especially for the first time, so we’ll just see what happens in the morning.”
France swept the combined podium, which consisted of a morning super G and afternoon slalom, with Frenchmen Alexis Pinturault, Victor Muffat-Jeandet and Thomas Mermillod-Blondin going one-two-three. Pinurault also won the combined event at Kitzbuehel last season.
Austria’s Marcel Hirscher was looking to make up ground on overall World Cup leader Aksel Lund Svindal, who won the morning super G, but was disqualified for missing a gate in the slalom. Svindal is the odds on favorite to win Saturday’s downhill and extend his overall World Cup lead, which is currently 107 points ahead of Hirscher, who sits in second. Svindal also went out second run after straddling and losing his ski.
Seven Americans are scheduled to start Saturday’s downhill, including three Squaw Valley skiers: Bennett, Travis Ganong and Marco Sullivan. Also starting are Jared Goldberg, Steven Nyman, Wiley Maple and Andrew Weibrecht. Catch the race live on NBCSN at 2:30 a.m.
Weibrecht 2nd in super G
Weibrecht earned the most prestigious super G result of his career earlier Friday, finishing second on the classic Hahnenkamm track.
“I couldn’t be happier. It’s awesome,” said Weibrecht. “Growing up everybody thinks about getting on the podium at Kitzbuehel. Today is a dream come true.”
Svindal of Norway scored his 15th career World Cup super G victory, while Austria’s Hannes Reichelt was third. Friday’s super G also served as the first leg of the alpine combined and was followed with the afternoon slalom race.
“I thought I was close today, but Aksel skied a great run,” Weibrecht said. ”I’m a little disappointed that he beat me, but it’s an amazing feeling. This is a dream come true to take home one of the Kitzbuehel trophies.”
Among other Americans, Maple was 25th, Nyman 26th. Thomas Biesemeyer 31st, Bennett 34th, Duffy 50th and Truckee native Tim Jitloff 53rd.
Weibrecht dedicated his performance to 1994 Olympic Downhill Champion Bill Johnson, who passed away Thursday afternoon.
“He really jump started American downhill racing,” Weibrecht said of Johnson. “In 1984 when Bill came and put down that fantastic run in Sarajevo, he really revitalized the sport and paved the way for guys like Tommy Moe, AJ Kit, and Kyle Rasmussen … and those guys paved the way for our generation. It’s really important to recognize where we have come from as a country in this sport, and Bill was a big part of that.”