Millions of years ago, Xiaohaituo lay in an ocean – hence its name: small mountain in the middle of the sea. The water has long since disappeared at the venue of the Olympic downhill run – the wind remained.
It often blows so hard that Chinese roulette threatens in the race of the supreme alpine discipline in Yanqing.
But what does threaten mean? “You’re already sure about that,” said Andreas Sander, who won World Championship silver in the downhill a year ago.
According to the Chinese coaches, there is “rarely” no wind on the Xiaohaituo. But it is uncertain whether Sander will even receive a participation ticket for the expected lottery on Sunday.
The Vice World Champion was not nominated by the coaches in the first round and has to fight in a duel with Simon Jocher for the last of the four German starting places in the final training session.
Andreas Sander “in better shape and more competitive”
He was “much better in shape and more competitive” than in his weak dress rehearsal in Kitzbühel, Sander claimed. But the trainers around boss Christian Schwaiger have doubts, his preliminary work was too poor.
The golden Olympic helmet doesn’t help either. “You’d like to hear that,” said Sander, laughing, when asked whether there was a certain requirement associated with the paintwork, “but no, no,” the outfitter was responsible for that: “I think it’s cool, but everyone associates precious metal with it in order to.”
If you want to make it on the artificial snow band, you don’t just have to assert yourself against internal competition.
Baumann, Ferstl and Schwaiger nominated for Olympic downhill
On the Xiaohaituo, double world champion Vincent Kriechmayr said in good Austrian, “you need a fat one” – a lot of wind luck. “The best ride is probably of no use to you,” agreed Romed Baumann, “no matter how fast you can ski with these gusts – it won’t work out.”
In the second training session on Friday, Baumann said “it was irregular”. Nevertheless, Boss Schwaiger decided to nominate Josef Ferstl and Dominik Schwaiger for the race alongside Baumann, second at the World Championships in Super-G. The trio was faster than the competition – Sander was a tiny 0.12 seconds behind Schwaiger.
Top favorite Aleksander Aamodt Kilde set the best time. “I was in the flow,” said the six-time winner of the season from Norway, “and was lucky with the wind.”
For the Germans, who haven’t yet made it onto the podium this winter, the conditions might be an opportunity. There are “definitely more contenders” for the medals, said Ferstl and pleaded for taking things calmly. “Getting excited and wasting energy all the time,” he said, “isn’t the best either.”