Feelings instead of places on the Streif

Thomas Dreßen no longer wanted to look at the results, he just wanted to “get the feeling” back. And the 29-year-old developed that during his ride in the downhill race on the Streif this Friday. It felt good for the former Kitzbühel winner, who is on a comeback tour after a long period of injury: “If you have fun on such a difficult track,” said the 29-year-old: “What more do you want?”

At the time of his analysis, Dreßen was fifth – and with a view to the drivers still to follow, a top ten place seemed certain, and a place in the top eight was very likely. But he didn’t want to focus on the results at all – and promptly a whole series of surprise men drove to the front of the tableau, Dreßen was passed down to 13th place.

Behind world champion Vincent Kriechmayr, who secured the hoped-for home win for Austria in 1:56.16 minutes, Italian Florian Schieder (+0.23 seconds) unexpectedly took second place with start number 43 best World Cup result. Other outsiders such as the American Jared Goldberg in fourth (+0.35) and the Slovenian Miha Hrobat in seventh (+0.46) took advantage of the good track when the skies opened up.

In the closest downhill race in Kitzbühel’s history, which started from the original start, 16 runners landed within a second – a clear sign of how close the world leaders have come together. Next Thomas Dresden (+0.87) Andreas Sander (+0.94) as 15th also belonged to the illustrious circle of that top group – and he too was quite satisfied with his performance.

Where’s the lost thread?

“I felt the skis,” said the fastest Westphalian in skiing history. “I was completely with myself”. And that’s why he’s “really proud of me” for the first time this season. The 33-year-old surprisingly won silver at the World Championships two years ago, but hasn’t been able to repeat his moment of glory since then.

In general, the German speed drivers are clearly below expectations this season, and head coach Christian Schwaiger is also puzzled as to when and where “the thread was lost” – and how one could find it again? At the end of the day, it’s a matter of self-confidence to be able to succeed on a World Cup downhill run. This in turn feeds on successes, which in turn depend on self-confidence.

A vicious circle that Dreßen and Co. are trying to break out of Kitzbuehel had done. Orienting yourself to the top people like Aleksander Aamodt Kilde (Norway) or Marco Odermatt (Switzerland) is of no use, said Dreßen: “They drive their own lines”. The wrong ones on Friday in Kitzbühel. Kilde almost landed in the safety fence and saved himself in 16th place. Odermatt only finished 54th after a big mistake.

On the other hand, Dreßen left the starting gate with the unbeatable feeling of “having the greatest job in the world” – if you could even call ski racing “a job”. “Fuck what comes out, have fun with it”. Because success comes with fun. If not today, then tomorrow. Perhaps.

Germany’s best speed driver Kira Weidle has meanwhile climbed onto the podium again at the place of her greatest success. Two years after World Championship silver in Cortina d’Ampezzo, the Starnberg native took third place in the downhill World Cup and set the next exclamation mark of the season shortly before the World Championships in France. The 26-year-old was 0.36 seconds behind Italy’s exceptional athlete Sofia Goggia on Friday. Ilka Stuhec from Slovenia (+0.13) was second. The 82-time World Cup winner Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) took fourth place (+0.50).

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