Max Franz returns to his “living room” Val Gardena

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For Max Franz, the World Cup season really starts this weekend. The speed specialist returns to his “living room” in Val Gardena. The Carinthian achieved four of his ten podium places on the Saslong alone. “I just feel good here,” said Franz. “I’ve loved waves since I was a child, so I can handle them well.”

This love affair with the piste and its centerpiece, the Ciaslat, has so far culminated in a full podium in the downhill – victory in 2016, second place in 2018 and third place in 2017 as well as a second place in the Super-G (2017). Franz started the season cautiously with ranks 14 (Super-G) and 12 (Downhill). After a poor pre-season, “the conviction” wasn’t quite right in France. “But I saw during training: the basic speed is there.”

In Val Gardena, the Super-G on Friday and the downhill on Saturday (11.45 a.m. / live ORF 1) shouldn’t just be the speed. “Where to go and to know: If you don’t do a lot of nonsense, you’ll be there – that makes it a lot easier. I think I need that now too, so that I can come back to these results, where I have once been.”

Franz sees the conditions for this in place. “I did my homework over the summer.” The body plays along again, which enables high training volumes. “It was a fight with the cross last year and then the fight line itself the rest of the season because the results weren’t there.” He now hopes that the “necessary looseness” will be there after the Val Gardena weekend. One downer is that his fan club is not allowed to be there this year due to the corona.

When it comes to being relaxed, Christian Walder is one step ahead of his Carinthian partner. With second place in the Super-G, Walder took the podium for the first time in the World Cup. The 29-year-old sees the reason for the break in the new piece of equipment alongside physical and technical progress. “The change of material was definitely good for me. I get along incredibly well with Salomon.”

Vincent Kriechmayr has also changed his material, which gave him one of his two Super-G victories of the season in Val Gardena last year. “Of course last year was a very good day for me,” said the Upper Austrian succinctly. His focus is on the present: “New year, new day and again trying to keep up with the front.”

The condition of the slopes is likely to change. Clear nights are announced, the runners reported “a lot of moisture” in the underground. “Then it can develop into a very fast track, then the whole thing looks different,” said Kriechmayr on Thursday. “Down there it demands very sensitive driving. Michi from Walchhofer (3 victories, note) has always done very well, Max exactly the same.”

Kriechmayr probably also thought of Norwegian athletes. The Val Gardena has recently been the preferred “territory” of the “Elche”, in the Super-G the Scandinavians triumphed in six of the past eight races. The now ski pensioner Aksel Lund Svindal struck four times, and Kjetil Jansrud won twice (2014, 2016). With overall World Cup winner Aleksander Kilde, the downhill winner of 2018 and Adrian Smiseth Sejersted, who was second in the opening Super-G, behind the Swiss ball winner Mauro Caviezel, there are other podium contenders.



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