PYEONGCHANG (Reuters) - After dominating his rivals for much of the season, Switzerland’s Beat Feuz is promising to go for broke in the men’s downhill final on a course that’s less fast and precipitous than he usually prefers.
The stocky German-speaker, winner of the 2017 downhill at the World Championships in St Moritz, comes into his second Olympics on the back of wins this season in Garmisch, Wengen and Lake Louise and two other second-place finishes.
No wonder that his name was the first on the lips of defending Olympic champion Matthias Mayer this week when the Austrian was asked to pick out his leading rivals.
His three training runs have been a mixed bag, with placings of 15th, third and equal 45th, though he clearly eased up on the last one to save energy.
The relatively benign 2.85 km piste created by his fellow-countryman and former Olympic champion Bernhard Russi at the Jeongseon Alpine Centre features several jumps but is a far cry from the more spectacular descents on the World Cup circuit.
“It’s a different kind of course, naturally, it’s not a classic one, but so far I like it just fine,” Feuz - whose name is roughly pronounced Bay-at Foyts - told Reuters after his middle practice run.
“There are no stretches that are extremely steep or high-tempo where you can make a difference. That means that you really have to attack full-on, from the very top to the very bottom.”
That, could be a risky strategy according to U.S. great Bode Miller.
“I think the mistakes will come from pushing too hard, because when it becomes difficult to win, guys try to take too much risk to try to gain that little bit extra,” Miller told Reuters this week.
Caution, however, is not Feuz’s style.
And after a disappointing time at Sochi four years ago, where he competed with an ankle injury and his best position from three events was 13th in the downhill, he does not plan to hold back in Pyeongchang.
A medal in the downhill, scheduled for Sunday, would be a great 30th birthday present, although he may have to wait longer as windy conditions threaten to push the race back a few days.
“We have to adjust to that,” he said.
“We hope to go on Sunday - if not, we have to be ready and be able to focus again on Monday. But for us every week is like that.”
Editing by Greg Stutchbury