People of a certain age like to take refuge in reassuring habits.
For "grandpa" Johan Clarey, no verbena before going to bed, but a second place on the terrible Streif of Kitzbühel for the third consecutive year.
At 42, the Frenchman pushes back his own record for the oldest skier to stand on a World Cup podium.
All despite personal concerns that forced him to withdraw last minute last week in Wengen (Switzerland) and seemed to have taken him out of the game in Kitzbühel.
“Wednesday I was at the bottom of the hole … I was emotionally and morally very low, but I never let go, he explained in the mixed zone. Yesterday I was still not very well (18th in the first descent). A big thank you to my wife who was exceptional with me, she went through difficult times, she came, we needed to be together. This second place is thanks to her."
"Hasta la vista, baby"
The Streif, diabolical track where skiers look danger in the eye like nowhere else, Clarey masters it.
He climbed on Saturday on his fourth downhill podium in Kitzbühel (3rd in 2017, 2nd in 2021, 2022 and 2023), in addition to a 2nd place in super-G in 2019.
As the eternal Arnold Schwarzenegger watched, arm in arm with former champion Lindsey Vonn in the finish area, there was no "I'll be back" for Clarey, but rather a "Hasta la vista, baby", sung at the stadium microphone by the Terminator himself.
The tricolor colossus (1.91 m) is indeed playing his last season, a year after winning Olympic silver in Beijing.
Last objective for the man who sublimates himself on command: the Courchevel / Méribel World Championships, in front of his public, in a little over two weeks.
But as since the beginning of his career, the Tignard, who has never been able to savor the sweet taste of victory, fell on a bone.
This thick and Norwegian bone, Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, has like last year outstripped the Frenchman (by 67/100).
Imperial in downhill this season, Kilde (30) won his 5th victory of the winter in the discipline, his 7th in all, enough to bring his career total to 20 successes, two days after hurting himself the right hand during training, and 24 hours after a huge scare on the first descent (16th).
Norwegian Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, winner of the Kitzbühel downhill, January 21, 2023 © Joe Klamar / AFP
"I went to bed last night thinking about what I had to do to win, and I had a plan. This is for sure one of my greatest wins, if not the greatest. I proud of myself after a few tough days."
Kilde remains second in the general classification but is closer to 225 points from the Swiss Marco Odermatt, who has withdrawn to rest his left knee, which was painful after a crazy trick on the track on Friday.
Behind Kilde and Clarey, the American Travis Ganong completed the podium 95/100 behind the Norwegian.
The race was marked by the farewell to the competition at the age of 35 of the Swiss Olympic champion Beat Feuz (16th), celebrated with his bib 217 as his number of starts in the World Cup.
Behind Clarey, Adrien Théaux took 15th place, Nils Allègre 25th, Blaise Giezendanner 27th and Maxence Muzaton 29th.
Again very fast, Cyprien Sarrazin crashed at the end of the course and picked up a few wounds on his face.
© 2023 AFP