Alpine skiing-Kriechmayr wins Wengen classic after outcry over participation

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WENGEN, Switzerland : Vincent Kriechmayr won the classic Wengen World Cup downhill for the second time on Saturday, despite an outcry over his participation in the Swiss speed events in the wake of a positive coronavirus test.

The Austrian failed to complete one of two midweek training sessions because he was in quarantine after testing positive, which according to regulations should have barred him from starting either downhills on Friday or Saturday.

But the world champion and 2019 Wengen winner was given special authorisation to compete by the International Skiing Federation (FIS). After taking 12th place in Friday's short version of the Lauberhorn classic, the 30-year-old claimed his 10th World Cup win.

The exemption triggered a vocal protest, especially from the Swiss and French teams, but FIS race director Markus Waldner on Thursday defended the decision.

"We didn’t make that decision because it’s Mr. Kriechmayr who is a world champion and who has won here. We would make that decision for every skier, because we live in very complicated pandemic times,” Waldner said.

Kriechmayr clocked a best time of two minutes 26.09 to beat Swiss Beat Feuz by 0.34 second with Italian Dominik Paris coming home third 0.44 second off the pace, according to provisional results.

Paris reclaimed the lead in the downhill World Cup standings with 316 points, 11 ahead of Norway's Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, with six racers within 40 points at the top of the table.

Kilde, who prevailed on Friday, was seventh following a mistake in the upper section, losing further ground on Marco Odermatt in the overall World Cup standings after the Swiss took fourth place, 0.02 second from a podium finish.

Odermatt had 1,075 points to Kilde's 685 ahead of their eagerly anticipated duel at the Beijing Olympics next month.

Swiss Carlo Janka, who is retiring with immediate effect, failed to make it to the bottom of the course.

Janka, winner of the overall World Cup and giant slalom Olympic title in 2010, one year after being crowned giant slalom world champion, is ending his career for health reasons.

(Writing by Julien Pretot; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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