Franz was the only man to crack 1:51 as he produced a time of 1:50.65 with Kroell +0.37 back with a time of 1:51.02.
France's Adrien Theaux was third fastest +0.87 behind Franz.
After heavy snowfall, however, the course was very soft and the times not very meaningful.
"It's very, very soft. So it all went quite well," said Franz. "And I did not fall, because it is dangerous in the soft snow. It was a great run, I am very happy today. "
Downhill discipline champion Kroell was less pleased with the super soft slopes.
"That was pretty much the worst track I've ever skied. The training is not at all conclusive," he said.
Top 10 times
1. FRANZ Max (AUT) 1:50.65
2. KROELL Klaus (AUT) 1:51.02
3. THEAUX Adrien (FRA) 1:51.52
4. GUAY Erik (CAN) 1:51.81
5. SCHEIBER Florian (AUT) 1:52.04
6. ANSRUD Kjetil (NOR) 1:52.08
7. SVINDAL Aksel Lund (NOR) 1:52.14
8. STREITBERGER Georg (AUT) 1:52.23
9. CLAREY Johan (FRA) 1:52.29
10. KOSTELIC Ivica (CRO) 1:52.32