Mayer was 0.11 seconds faster than Mauro Caviezel on Thursday down the full 4.27-kilometer (2 2/3-mile) course that is by far the longest on the World Cup circuit. Aleksander Aamodt Kilde was third, 0.31 behind 2014 Olympic downhill gold medallist Mayer, as the season’s two standout downhill racers focused on key sections of the course.
World Cup downhill standings leader Dominik Paris clocked the fastest speed of 148 kph (92 mph), on a straight passage two minutes into the run under clear blue skies. Two-time Lauberhorn winner Beat Feuz was fastest on the top section overlooked by the Eiger, Moench and Jungfrau mountains, but eased off near the finish.
In a strong showing by the American team, Ryan Cochran-Siegle was fifth after being second fastest in Tuesday’s practice run behind Caviezel. Bryce Bennett was ninth and Steven Nyman 11th. Nyman will not join his teammates in the Alpine combined event Friday which uses a shorter version of the storied Lauberhorn course.
The 90th year of Switzerland’s signature ski race faces challenging conditions Saturday. Snowfall is forecast overnight until close to the scheduled 12:30 p.m. (1130 GMT) start time. Organizers said they could switch to the lower start gate, making for a winning time around 1 minute, 50 seconds, if the icy racing surface cannot be cleared of snow.
A heavy snowfall could also affect the traditional pre-race flyover by a Swiss airline passenger jet accompanied by military fighter jets.
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