It was a nerve-wracking 29 runs in which all Beat Feuz could do was sit and hope his first-place time held, but the Swiss skiers ultimately captured that elusive gold in men’s downhill. Of course, it helps when you post the fastest ever performance in men's downhill skiing at the Olympics.
Feuz entered Beijing as a favorite to stand atop the podium after winning two medals in PyeongChang -- bronze in the downhill and silver in the Super-G. The 34-year-old was the 13th skier out of the gate, completing the course in 1:42.69, a tenth of a second ahead of his next closest competitor.
After getting out to a quick start, Feuz went wide around a jump and looked in danger of slipping but he quickly recovered to claim first. This is the fourth time Switzerland has won gold in this event, most recently having done so in 2010.
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Six competitors later, Johan Clarey of France clocked in a time of 1:42.79 to move into the silver medal position. At 41, Clarey is the oldest medalist in this event by five years, a record previously held by American Bode Miller, who won bronze in 2014 at 36.
Austria’s Matthias Mayer rounded out the podium finishes with a 1:42.85 finish. Mayer won gold in Sochi at 23 years old but failed to defend his title in PyeongChang, finishing ninth overall.
American Ryan Cochran-Siegle posted the strongest time for Team USA, crossing the finish line in 1:43.91, good for 14th place. Teammates Bryce Bennett and Travis Ganong finished in 19th and 20th place, respectively.
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Switzerland, France and Austria are several of the historic heavyweights in this event, along with Italy and Norway. Meanwhile, the U.S. hasn’t won a medal in this event since Miller won bronze at the Sochi Games. The only other American medals in this event came from Bill Johnson and Tommy Moe who won gold in 1984 and 1994, respectively.
Another early favorite to contend for a medal was Norway’s Aleksander Kilde. Kilde improved on his 15th place finish in PyeongChang but failed to crack the top five, finishing in fifth place. A prolific skier in his own right, Kilde is one half of a skiing power couple. He and American Mikaela Shiffrin have publicly been in a relationship since early last summer.
This event garnered some attention early in the Games when high winds cancelled a training run midway through and postponed the event itself, which was originally scheduled to begin Saturday at 10 p.m. ET. Kilde, Mayer and Christof Innerhofer of Italy were the only three athletes who got a chance to train before the practice session earlier this week was canceled.