Published: Jan 20, 11:19a ET
Updated: Jan 20, 12:24p ET

Cuche chases records in final Streif visit

Swiss standout looks for fifth win on classic downhill race

KITZBUEHEL, Austria (AP) - Didier Cuche will add several more chapters to the World Cup record book if he crowns his last visit to the Streif with a victory on Saturday, two days after announcing his retirement at the end of the season.

The 37-year-old Swiss standout, already the oldest skier to win a World Cup race, would become the first to win the classic downhill race for a fifth time, overtaking Austrian great Franz Klammer, who won it four times in the 1970s and 80s.

"I don't feel like I have to win. I may get another win and I may set that record," Cuche said. "Even if it remains four wins, I will be very proud and I will be waiting with Franz until someone gets to five."

He would also help Switzerland to become the first nation with five straight Hahnenkamm victories since the introduction of the World Cup in 1967 - Cuche won in 2008, '10 and '11, and Didier Defago in '09.

"The special pressure of racing in Kitzbuehel makes me even stronger," said Cuche, who led Wednesday's training. "On this course, I am more alert, I am able to get everything out of myself."

Cuche won a downhill in Lake Louise, Canada, in November for his 10th career victory in the discipline. He was expected to face fierce competition in his attempt to make it 11.

American Bode Miller stated that it's about time for his first triumph at one of World Cup's key events.

"Kitzbuehel is pretty much the pinnacle, it's the top of the downhill," said Miller, who was looking to become the second American after Daron Rahlves in 2003 to win here.

"To Daron, Hahnenkamm was everything," Miller said. "Maybe it's because I haven't put the focus on this race as much as some other guys. I have never won the downhill. It's one of the things that I feel like is kind of missing from my career results."

Any Austrian victory on the Streif would also be a first. Only Klaus Kroell has won a downhill in his career - in Wengen, Switzerland, a year ago.

Kroell, who posted the fastest time in Tuesday's opening training session, said he was ready to earn his team its first downhill victory of the season.

"I felt well in training, but conditions have not been easy," said Kroell, referring to the changing weather that has featured rain and snow, which led to the cancellation of the super-G on the same course Friday.

"I hope we can have a fair race with equal conditions for all," Kroell said.

Apart from Miller and Kroell, who are both ahead of him in the World Cup downhill standings, Cuche will also need to keep an eye on his Swiss teammate Beat Feuz, who won the Lauberhorn downhill last weekend to go top of that ranking.

The 24-year Feuz could become the first racer to take the classic Wengen-Kitzbuehel double since Didier Defago three years ago. However, Feuz was downplaying his chances of completing that feat.

"Guys like Cuche or Kroell are still a step ahead of me, but I want to make it as hard as possible for them," he said. "I am standing well on my skis and I am full of confidence."

Feuz acknowledged that the demanding Streif course is usually best mastered by more experienced racers. Feuz has only raced here twice, placing 31st in 2010 and 18th last year.

"Most of the time a veteran wins here," Feuz said. "But that's what they also say about Wengen."

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