*

upload_article_image

Austria's Kriechmayr wins Switzerland's classic downhill

It is never easy for Switzerland to watch an Austrian downhiller win its signature ski race that is part of the Alpine nation’s culture.

It was even harder to take Saturday as Vincent Kriechmayr won the classic Lauberhorn race that Swiss team officials said this week he should not have been allowed to start.

Kriechmayr's victory in a sun-splashed World Cup downhill beneath the Eiger mountain came despite missing midweek training runs that are typically mandatory. He had been kept in quarantine in Austria after testing positive for COVID-19.

Switzerland's Beat Feuz reacts at the finish area of an alpine ski, men's World Cup downhill race, in Wengen, Switzerland, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. (AP PhotoLuciano Bisi)

He had arrived in Wengen late Wednesday, after the two training runs, but was cleared by race officials who insisted Kriechmayr — the reigning world champion in downhill — had not been given special treatment under International Ski Federation rules.

In a further twist, Kriechmayr’s winning run denied Swiss favorite Beat Feuz a record fourth win in the storied race.

The Austrian winner finished 0.34 seconds ahead of runner-up Feuz down the tiring 4.27 kilometer (2 2/3-mile) course that is the longest on the World Cup circuit.

Italy's Dominik Paris speeds down the course during an alpine ski, men's World Cup downhill race, in Wengen, Switzerland, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. (AP PhotoGabriele Facciotti)

Kriechmayr’s winning time at just over 2 minutes, 26 seconds was 0.44 faster than third-placed Dominik Paris of Italy.

Switzerland’s emerging ski star Marco Odermatt was fourth, trailing by 0.46.

Odermatt extended his lead in the overall World Cup standings to a big 390-point margin from Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, who was 0.98 back in seventh. Kilde had won Friday’s downhill ahead of Odermatt on a shorter Lauberhorn course.

Switzerland's Gilles Roulin speeds down the course during an alpine ski, men's World Cup downhill race, in Wengen, Switzerland, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. (AP PhotoGabriele Facciotti)

Paris’ 60 points earned on Saturday gave him the lead Kilde had held in the season-long downhill standings in a tight contest where Odermatt in sixth place is just 40 points back.

More AP skiing: https://apnews.com/hub/skiing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Fans attend an alpine ski, men's World Cup downhill race, in Wengen, Switzerland, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. (AP PhotoLuciano Bisi)