Alpine Skiing

Jansrud denies Svindal perfect career ending

Olympic champion Aksel Lund Svindal takes silver in his final race as team-mate Kjetil Jansrud wins the World Championship downhill at Are.

By Rory Jiwani ·

Norway's Kjetil Jansrud edged out retiring team-mate Aksel Lund Svindal in a thrilling World Championship downhill in Are, Sweden.

In his very last race, double Olympic champion Svindal crossed the line just two-hundredths of a second outside the time set by his close friend to bow out with a silver medal.

Sochi 2014 Super-G gold medallist Jansrud was second to Svindal in the PyeongChang downhill, but went one better to claim his first world title with Austria's Vincent Kriechmayr taking bronze.

The race nearly did not go ahead.

Heavy snow, poor visibility, and fog saw the start put back by half an hour, then another half-hour.

While some of the skiers were surprised to see racing proceed, Svindal told Eurosport afterwards he was pleased to get his final competition started.

"I was ready today because it's been an emotional couple of weeks. I was ready to get this over with, to be honest, and just hammer one last time and then that's it."

Aksel Lund Svindal acknowledges the crowd after going second in the World Championship downhill at Are

Svindal so close to golden goodbye

The conditions forced a cautious approach from the first few skiers.

Double Olympic gold medallist Matthias Mayer set the early target at 1:20:63 but it was Norway's 'Attacking Vikings' who lived up to their billing.

Jansrud clocked 1:19:98 thanks to a fearless descent before the moment the crowd had been waiting for.

His friend and rival Svindal stared down from the start gate for the final time, and put everything into his last run.

After years of success and injuries, the 36-year-old came so close to a fairytale ending.

He was just two-hundredths of a second outside Jansrud's time and had to settle for second place.

Runner-up Aksel Lund Svindal (L) hugs winner Kjetil Jansrud after the World Championship downhill at Are

Wednesday's Super-G champion Dominik Paris struggled on the mid-section of the course with the Italian failing to trouble the leaders.

Switzerland's defending champion Beat Feuz moved into third place, but he was overtaken by Kriechmayr who added bronze to his Super-G silver.

But the day belonged to the two Norwegians as Svindal ended his career in fitting style.

Fans in the finish area held up a sign reading "Aksel, tack for allt" ("Aksel, thanks for everything") while another banner said, "Aksel - you are my hero".

Plagued by recurring injuries and after aggravating his troublesome knee in Kitzbuehel last month, the veteran announced he was hanging up his skis.

With two Olympic golds - the Vancouver 2010 Super-G and the PyeongChang 2018 downhill - and five world titles, Svindal retires as an all-time great in speed disciplines.

And in the post-race news conference, he said he had no regrets about calling time on his career.

"It's not that I'm forced to retire. It's just with all the factors together, I think it's a good choice and I'm still very comfortable with it.

"Even when I wake up tomorrow morning I think I will still be happy with this position. Everything has its time and the time has come to kick back and enjoy this from the spectators' side of everything."

On his emotional reaction after the finish, he said: "I stopped in that area and I saw my time. And then I was two hundredths behind and I was feeling the energy from the crowd and seeing all the Norwegian flags...

"I was just you know, 'Let's just enjoy this. Two-hundredths that way or two-hundredths this way... let's just enjoy this as the last moment.'"

Fans pay tribute to retiring Svindal

There were plenty of Norwegian supporters in Are to bid a fond farewell to ...

Jansrud's comeback

Like Svindal, Jansrud also fell foul of the fearsome Streif downhill course at Kitzbuehel in January.

The five-time Olympic medallist broke two bones in his left hand in training, but defied the pain to compete in Are.

He told Eurosport, "We've been fortunate enough to share one and two for quite a few times throughout the career and grabbing my first (world) gold medal in his retiring race and both of us get a double medal, it's quite unbelievable.

"What happened at Kitzbuehel, you feel like you're battling the timing to get back in the mix.

"It doesn't matter where it hurts, when you get the opportunity to go you go as hard as you can and ski with your heart and you see where we end up and today was an amazing day."

Kjetil Jansrud celebrates after his winning run in the World Championship downhill at Are

"This is as close to home as I will ever ski at a championship. A lot of Norwegians in the crowd. And from burning out my chance in the Super-G, you make it our break it.

"I figured if not today, when? And if I don't ski fast, Aksel's going to do it."

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