The wind blows the last departure ticket into Andreas Sander’s hands – and should also help the German outsiders at the Alpine coronation mass.
The “weapons” were already ready, but the duel on the Xiaohaituo was gone with the wind. “I would have liked to go it out,” said Andreas Sander about the unusual duel with Simon Jocher for the last German starting place for the Olympic downhill, “I was very optimistic that I could do it.” He didn’t have to, the wind blew the fourth ticket into the hands of the Vice World Champion without a fight.
Because there was a lot of whistling over the white artificial snow band on the brown Olympia mountain on Saturday, the final training session was stopped after just three runners. Sander and Jocher were still standing there and had to wait for the coaches’ decision.
Her vote for Sander, explained boss Christian Schwaiger, was “very clear”. In addition to the training on Friday, the deciding factors were the world rankings and the World Cup standings in the downhill.
Sander’s relief after difficult weeks was “very great”. However, he emphasized: Just being there in the race in the supreme discipline on Sunday (11:00 a.m. OZ/4:00 a.m. CET) – that’s not what he’s about, “I’ve been there before”: In 2018 he was tenth. “One would like to have a say” in the medal fight, emphasized Sander, and: “I trust myself to do that.”
Schwaiger remembers the World Cup in Cortina d’Ampezzo
Whether Sander, Romed Baumann, Josef Ferstl or Dominik Schwaiger – “the boys”, said head coach Schwaiger, “are highly motivated and ski well”. His downhill skiers are “definitely outsiders at the Alpine Coronation Mass, but this role suits us”. Schwaiger recalled the World Championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo 2021, “no one expected us” – Sander and Baumann (Super-G) still won silver.
Schwaiger believes he knows the recipe for a series: “Now we need a bomb run and luck.” The wind remains a factor. On Saturday he almost blew two-time Olympic champion Matthias Mayer off the slopes.
Nevertheless, the jury also let South Tyrolean Christof Innerhofer and top favorite Aleksander Aamodt Kilde ride before they stopped for safety reasons – much to the annoyance of many starters, who felt cheated of another test. “The mood was very heated,” reported double world champion Vincent Kriechmayr, the word “scandal” made the rounds.
Athlete spokesman Johan Clarey complained to race boss Markus Waldner that the runners weren’t even heard properly. The early termination, said Schwaiger, “nobody understands”, one could have waited, “we have all the time”.
The trio around Kilde now “certainly have an advantage”, he said. Sander was one of the few who found it “not that bad”. He is “pretty sure” that it will fit in the race, “then that’s enough”.