Eighth place felt like a win for ski racer Thomas Dreßen.
Full of relief, the Upper Bavarian threw his arms in the air after crossing the finish line on Saturday and roared an unmistakable “YESAAA!” into the Rocky Mountains.
Germany's best downhill skier is back - and how.
"It's really cool to be back.
It felt like coming home," said the 29-year-old after his first World Cup race since March 2020.
Victory in Lake Louise, Canada went to Norwegian powerhouse Aleksander Aamodt Kilde.
The winner of the small crystal ball was 0.06 seconds ahead of Daniel Hemetsberger of Austria.
The Swiss high-flyer Marco Odermatt (+0.10) took third place.
With starting number four, Dreßen threw himself out of the starting gate.
"I felt nervous at the start," reported the athlete from Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
In the steep middle section, the German still lacked courage in some passages.
On the other hand, Dreßen immediately showed his old class in the gliding passages, which has led him to a total of five World Cup victories so far.
"I thought I had to deliver"
Dreßen can safely plan for the World Championships in France in February after his splendid run.
"I thought to myself, I have to deliver," said the athlete from SC Mittenwald after his long injury break.
First Dreßen had slowed down a hip operation.
Then an operation on the injured right knee caused the German to miss the entire past season, including the Olympic Games.
On Saturday, the Bavarian could finally shine again.
Romed Baumann, second in the World Championships, in tenth place and Dominik Schwaiger in twelfth place rounded off the good speed start from the point of view of the German Ski Association.
Simon Jocher (17th), Josef Ferstl (22nd), Andreas Sander (31st) and Luis Vogt missed out on a place in the top 15 and thus missed half the World Cup norm.
The track became slower and slower as the cloud cover increased.
It was the first descent of the season for the fastest Alpine athletes after the Matterhorn races planned for the end of October had to be canceled due to a lack of snow.
A Super-G is scheduled for the men's team in Lake Louise on Sunday.
And Dreßen is suddenly one of the contenders for the top places.