|Date||9 February 2014 — 11:15|
|Location||Gornolyzhniy Tsenter Rosa Khutor, Mountain Cluster, Krasnaya Polyana|
|Participants||49 from 23 countries|
|Course Setter||Helmuth Schmalzl||IFR|
Length: 3495 m
Start Altitude: 2045 m
Vertical Drop: 1075 m
The men’s downhill piste within the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center was created by 1972 Olympic downhill gold medalist Bernhard Russi. The first challenge of the course was a rapid and steep descent called “Toboggan” followed by a gully, a compression and a right-hander named “Accola Valley”. After the “Estonian Tube”, a narrow chute and a series of downhill turns at “Small Pan” the main feature of course starts – the jumps: “Russian Trampoline”, “Bears Brow”, “Lake Jump”, and finally “Deer Jump”. With a length of 3,495 metres it was the longest Olympic downhill track ever and some saw similarities on the upper part with Beaver Creek or Bormio, and on the lower part with Wengen.
The undergoing World Cup season saw five different winners in the six races already held. Dominik Paris, also silver medalist at the 2013 World Championships, won the season opener in Lake Louise, but he was hindered after suffering a muscle injury in his lower left leg in December. Aksel Lund Svindal, reigning World Champion in 2013 and World Cup downhill winner of the last season, was the only racer to win twice (Beaver Creek and Bormio), while Erik Guay, World Champion in 2011, won in Val Gardena, Patrick Küng in Wengen, and Hannes Reichelt won the last World Cup downhill in Kitzbühel prior to the Games. So the downhill standings before the Games saw Svindal in the lead followed by Reichelt, Küng, and Guay. But Reichelt was not able to compete in Sochi as he underwent surgery for a disc herniation only two days after his win in Kitzbühel.
In 2012 a pre-Olympic downhill race was held as part of the World Cup (the first ever World Cup race held in Russia) and also a downhill race within a Super Combined was held. Both races were won by Beat Feuz, but he and Bode Miller injured their left knees in these races. While Miller returned to Sochi in top conditions Feuz had not regained his strength and was not expected to medal. Three training runs were held on 6-8 February all with perfect sunny weather. In the last run Rok Perko broke his nose after a fall and France’s Brice Roger tore his right ACL, eliminating both from the race the next day. The fastest in training were Miller, who won the first and third section, while Matthias Mayer topped the result of the second run.
On race day the weather was partly cloudy and the first Alpine skiing race in Sochi started with a delay of 15 minutes after a gondola problem. The early leader was third skier down Carlo Janka (SUI), reigning giant slalom champion, who posted a time of 2:06.71, a time which would ultimately see him place sixth. Travis Ganong (USA), skiing seventh, then beat this time by 0.07 seconds to take the lead. This was to be short-lived as the next skier down, Kjetil Jansrud, posted a time of 2:06.33. However, three starters later Matthias Mayer (AUT) went 0.1 seconds quicker to set what would prove to be the winning time of 2:06.23. Miller finished only eighth, and Svindal, whilst temporarily posting the third best time, eventually finished outside the medals in fourth. Christof Innerhofer (ITA), starting as the 20th competitor, skied the top half of the course well and threatened to win the gold medal but in the end slowed on the lower half of the course and just missed out by 0.06 seconds, settling for silver. Mayer, a surprise winner who only achieved a fifth place as his best result in a World Cup downhill prior to the Games, won with an average speed of 99.68 km/hr. Mayer also topped the family’s best result, winning the gold medal 26 years after his father Helmut won silver in the Super G in Calgary. Innerhofer, who skied on Rossignol, prevented a clean sweep for skiing manufacturer Head as Mayer, Jansrud, and Svindal all raced on Head skis.
|4||18||Aksel Lund Svindal||NOR||2:06.52|
|28||31||Paul de la Cuesta||ESP||2:09.46|
|41||42||Henrik von Appen||CHI||2:13.16|
|32||Aleksander Aamodt Kilde||NOR||–|
|44||Cristian Simari Birkner||ARG||–|