WENGEN, Switzerland (Reuters) - Austria’s Hannes Reichelt won the classic Lauberhorn men’s World Cup downhill on Sunday to end years of personal frustration and dash Swiss hopes of a winner on home snow.
The 34-year-old speed specialist had been the nearly man so often in the past but this time he was celebrating after finishing just ahead of three Swiss rivals.
Twice runner-up and once third in the past three seasons, Reichelt won in two minutes and 31.14 seconds, beating a trio of past winners on the longest and most tiring downhill of the men’s circuit.
“The time has come at long last and I’m so happy. I’ve come so close for so many years. And I must admit that finishing ahead of two Swiss (on the podium) in Switzerland is exciting,” he said.
“This podium is a great relief,” added the Austrian, who won a Super-G in Beaver Creek last month.
“Wengen is an important race on a record and I can now pin it down as well,” said the skier who has already won classic downhills in Bormio and Kitzbuehel.
Beat Feuz, the 2012 winner in Wengen, was second 0.12 slower and slightly ahead of fellow-Swiss Carlo Janka who won in 2010. Their compatriot Patrick Kueng, the defending champion, finished fourth.
Since his victory in Beaver Creek, Reichelt had struggled a bit but he said he was hitting form at just the right time after working hard to fine-tune his equipment.
“I couldn’t hope for a better result to boost my confidence. With Kitzbuehel coming up next week and the world championships just behind, I’m right on time,” he said.
Reichelt won the Hahnenkamm downhill in Kitzbuehel last year only to be sent to hospital for back problems the next day, forcing him out of the Sochi Olympics.
Reporting by Manuele Lang, writing by Francois Thomazeau, editing by Alan Baldwin.