LAKE LOUISE, AB – In a stunning return from serious injury, Thomas Dressen won a World Cup downhill in his comeback race on Saturday.
Dressen returned to action, wearing bib No. 13, exactly one year to the day after he blew out his right knee and dislocated a shoulder crashing at Beaver Creek, Colorado.
The German was just 0.02 seconds faster than Dominik Paris of Italy, who looked sure to extend his World Cup downhill winning streak to four stretching back to January.
Dressen punched the air with his left fist, threw back his head and raised both arms to the bright blue skies on a frigid day.
“It is just crazy,” said Dressen, adding he still feels pain walking up and down stairs. “Even top 10, top 15 would have been great for me, a great result.”
Paris had earlier denied what shaped as a fairy tale win for the Switzerland team, finishing 0.24 faster than Beat Feuz and Carlo Janka. They tied for the early lead and ended up sharing third place.
Janka was seeking a first downhill win for 10 seasons after being fastest in both training runs on the three-kilometer (nearly two-mile) Olympic course at Lake Louise.
With his third career win on Saturday, Dressen instantly recaptured the form of his breakout 2017-18 season.
He won the series’ signature race — the feared downhill at Kitzbuehel, Austria — in January 2018, placed fifth at the Pyeongchang Olympics, and won again at Kvitfjell, Norway.
Dressen trailed Paris at every time check until finding speed on the straight section approaching the finish line.
“With this result right now I think it doesn’t matter what comes (in) the rest of the season, because I can be happy and just have fun,” he said.
Feuz, the two-time defending World Cup downhill champion, has six podium finishes since his last victory — at Beaver Creek on the day Dressen crashed.
All of Janka’s three career downhill wins came in the 2009-10 season when he lifted the season-long overall title for the only time. He also took gold in giant slalom at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Now aged 33, Janka is entering prime years for an experienced downhill racer, and clocked the fastest speed on Saturday of more than 126 kph (78 mph).