VAL D'ISERE – VAL D'Long after most broadcasters switched from the race to other programs, unheralded No. 41 starter Martin Cater won the first downhill of the World Cup season on Sunday.
The television networks had a point. The 27-year-old Slovenian’s career-best result was eighth in his 38 previous World Cup downhills and he seemed unlikely to disturb an already unexpected 1-2 finish.
Instead, Cater raced down in bright sunshine under clear blue skies in the French Alps to seal an even more shocking podium result.
“For me it was a really good run but I didn’t believe it,” said Cater, who was 0.22 seconds faster than Otmar Striedinger to deny the Austrian his first career win.
Striedinger was wearing bib No. 26 after dropping out of the top-ranked group last season, and had a best of third place in his 64 previous World Cup downhills.
Urs Kryenbühl was third, 0.27 back. The little-known Swiss seemed set for his debut win after being fastest of the top 20-ranked racers. He had a single top-10 result in his 41 career World Cup races, though that was as runner-up last year in Bormio, Italy.
Both Striedinger and Kryenbühl earlier thought victory was theirs.
“It was a cool feeling and a good experience," Kryenbühl said about sitting in the leader's box course-side, though he added: "Every skier knows that all of the guys who are standing on the start gate are pretty good skiers and the race is finished when all are at the bottom.”