Kilde opens ’23 Xfinity Birds of Prey with fastest downhill training run

by Cheryl Lindstrom

The 2023 Xfinity Birds of Prey Audi FIS Ski World Cup got underway Tuesday with the first downhill training run, won by Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, the defending downhill champion on this course. Kilde’s time of 1:39.68 was .23 seconds ahead of Cyprien Sarrazin of France. The men are preparing for their first speed race of the season ─ previous attempts in Zermatt, Switzerland, earlier in November, were canceled due to poor weather conditions.

The race week features downhill training Tuesday, November 28 and Wednesday, November 29 (the provisional training run scheduled for Thursday has been canceled), followed by two downhill races scheduled for Friday, December 1, and Saturday, December 2. A super G race on Sunday, December 3, closes out the annual test of the world’s best male Alpine ski racers in the speed disciplines. The Birds of Prey course on Beaver Creek Mountain was first used in 1997, and has since been the site of 69 men’s World Cup and eight World Championship races across all Alpine disciplines.

Kilde comes into Beaver Creek having won the last four consecutive races on this course, dating back to 2021. Should he win the opening race of the weekend, he would be the first racer to take five wins in a row on the Birds of Prey course.

Marco Odermatt of Switzerland inspects the course during the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Men’s Downhill Training on November 28, 2023 in Beaver Creek, USA. (Photo by Alexis Boichard/Agence Zoom)

Switzerland’s Marco Odermatt, the overall defending Audi FIS World Cup champion, finished 11th, 1:19 minutes off the pace. Odermatt, 26, won 13 races in the 2022-23 season, including the last four Super-G events. He won the Xfinity Birds of Prey super G in both 2019 and 2021 (no races were held in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic).

The highest placed American on Tuesday was Ryan Cochran-Siegle in 19th place. Other Americans and their places ─ 30. Jared Goldberg, 38. Bryce Bennett, 47. Sam Morse, 54. Kyle Negomir, 57. Maple Wiley, 63. Sam Dupratt, 74. River Radamus, 75. Isaiah Nelson, and 77. Jack Smith.

Bennett is the most recent American to win a World Cup race, a downhill nearly two years ago (December 18, 2021) in Val Gardena, Italy. The last American to win at Xfinity Birds of Prey is Tommy Ford, who took the giant slalom in 2019. Cochran-Siegle, the 2022 Olympic silver medalist in super G, has one World Cup win to his credit ─ a super G at Bormio, Italy, on December 29, 2020.

The Xfinity Birds of Prey races feature 82 athletes from 14 countries.


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