| Event type

Downhill, Men1

Date13 February 1998 — 11:00
LocationHappo'one, Hakuba (Olympic Course I)
Participants43 from 18 countries
Course SetterSepp MessnerITA
Venue detailsGates: 44
Length: 3289 m
Start Altitude: 1765 m
Vertical Drop: 925 m

The biggest story in the 1998 men’s downhill was the controversy over the course. After a test event had been held there the skiers felt that it was too short for a championship downhill. They requested that the start be moved higher up the mountain, but the Japanese organizers demurred, stating that this would take the course into an environmentally protected region. The Fédération Internationale de Ski (FIS) countered that many recreational skiers used that area and could not understand why the Olympic skiers could not race there as well. Eventually a compromise was reached with the course lengthened slightly. In fact, at a length of 3,289 metres, it became the longest men’s downhill in Olympic history.

However, starting the 1998 Olympic downhill was anything but easy, as the event, traditionally the first Alpine event at the Olympics, had to be postponed three times because of weather. It did not start until five days after it was scheduled. Though the course was not felt to be difficult, that failed to take into consideration the 7th turn, which caused 14 of the 15 non-finishers to fall or miss the turn, leading to their disqualification. France’s Jean-Luc Crétier was the third skier out of the starthouse, and posted the fastest time to that point. As contender after contender, including Austrian Hermann “The Herminator” Maier, met their fate on the seventh turn, Crétier’s time held up for the gold medal. Crétier was also helped by the absence of his former teammate, Luc Alphand. Alphand was World Cup champion in 1997 in the overall, the downhill, and the Super G, but he then abruptly retired and turned his attention to race-car driving. In 2006 he won the Dakar Rally, a year after placing second in that cross-country race.

13Jean-Luc CrétierFRA1:50.11Gold
210Lasse KjusNOR1:50.51Silver
38Hannes TrinklAUT1:50.63Bronze
424Jürg GrünenfelderSUI1:50.64
525Ed PodivinskyCAN1:50.71
67Kristian GhedinaITA1:50.76
75Andreas SchiffererAUT1:50.77
89Didier CucheSUI1:50.91
926Kyle RasmussenUSA1:51.09
1023Patrik JärbynSWE1:51.22
112Fritz StroblAUT1:51.34
1217Tommy MoeUSA1:51.43
1311Kjetil André AamodtNOR1:51.72
141Franco CavegnSUI1:51.74
1530Jason RosenerUSA1:52.33
1612Werner PerathonerITA1:52.36
1721Tsuyoshi TomiiJPN1:52.62
1833Andrey FilichkinRUS1:52.65
1922Kevin WertCAN1:52.67
2031Jernej KoblarSLO1:52.79
2136Enis BećirbegovićBIH1:53.47
2243Andrzej Bachleda-CuruśPOL1:53.62
2335Graham BellGBR1:53.93
2438Vasily BezsmelnitsynRUS1:54.27
2537Linas VaitkusLTU1:56.22
2639Nils LinnebergCHI1:56.59
2742Patrick-Paul Schwarzacher-JoyceIRL1:58.71
2841Rainer GrobCHI1:58.75
AC4Hermann MaierAUTDNF
AC6Nicolas BurtinFRADNF
AC13Bruno KernenSUIDNF
AC14Luca CattaneoITADNF
AC15Peter RunggaldierITADNF
AC16Luke SauderCANDNF
AC18Aleš BrezavščekSLODNF
AC20Brian StemmleCANDNF
AC27Adrien DuvillardFRADNF
AC29Jürgen HaslerLIEDNF
AC32Andrew FreshwaterGBRDNF
AC34Yasuyuki TakishitaJPNDNF
AC40Thomas GrobCHIDNF