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Alpine Skiing Monday, 11 February, 2002, 05:01 GMT
Geared up for gold
Silver medallist Lasse Kjus with Fritz Strobl (gold) and Stephan Eberharter
Silver medallist Lasse Kjus with Strobl and Eberharter
BBC Sport's skiiing commentator Martin Bell reflects on Fritz Strobl's surprise defeat of Stephan Eberharter in the downhill at the Winter Olympics.

It was a wonderful course - there was always something happening.

There were no flat sections - possibly the flattest was the very start, or just after the start, and that's where Strobl won the race.

He slid out an advantage, which he never lost, after the first 25 seconds.

The difference between Strobl and Eberharter (who finished third) may well have been in the equipment.

Having said that, watching Eberharter's run, I really couldn't see a mistake. He did everything right - except winning the gold.

Fritz Strobl after his downhill success
Strobl is a quiet, but friendly character

Perhaps he wasn't quite as good with the waxing or in the preparation of his equipment, and it is the technicians who do all that.

When he came down, he didn't take the lead by as much as he would possibly have liked, and perhaps left a gap there.

He's very experienced. He's 32, and won his first world championship title 11 years ago.

Eberharter's had a lot of low periods, where he was injured and virtually off the Austrian ski team.

He certainly won't be disheartened going into the Super-G, and he's still favourite for that.

This year, he's won three out of the four Super-G events in the World Cup, compared with five out of eight in the downhill, so his winning percentage in Super-G has been higher.

Stephan Eberharter finished third
Eberharter had to settle for bronze

And in the Super-G, there is less waxing and preparation of the skis.

Skiing is definitely a sport that has a lot of technicalities in it, and it's always changing.

It's a little bit like Formula One, except on a smaller scale - the sums of money are not the same.

Different ski manufacturers are always looking for an advantage, and Strobl and Erbharter are sponsored by two different manufacturers.

Strobl is quite a down-to-earth character. He's a very quiet, but very pleasant guy.

British hopes

It is a shame there were no British competitors in the race, after Finley Mickel's injury.

We generally have a lack of downhillers, and are more strong in the slalom.

My brother (Graham), who's in charge of coaching our British ski team, is always mindful that he needs youngsters to start taking up downhill, because it is the most high-profile event on the circuit.

These days, downhill is becoming more technical.

There are more tight turns, and it is more important to have all-round skill, perhaps getting a grounding in Super-G or giant slalom.

Eberharter originally completed in giant slalom, and Ross Green and Chemmy Alcott may graduate for Britain in the future.

Links to more Alpine Skiing stories are at the foot of the page.


Links to more Alpine Skiing stories



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