Skiing

Norway's Svindal wins super-G for 20th World Cup victory

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Associated Press
1/25/2013 9:39:49 AM
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KITZBUEHEL, Austria -- Aksel Lund Svindal became the first skier in nine years to win three World Cup super-G races in a season on Friday.

Austrian standout Hermann Maier was the last skier to do it in 2003-04.

Svindal's 20th career World Cup victory -- and first in Kitzbuehel -- left him one shy of the all-time Norwegian record by Kjetil Andre Aamodt. In light snowfall and fog, Svindal used a strong finish to win in 1 minute, 14.68 seconds on the Streifalm course.

"I've been leading before in Kitzbuehel but always lost the race," Svindal said. "For me the last guy was Max Franz, I thought he could take me. He started 30th, so I felt my heart beating until I saw his split times."

Matthias Mayer of Austria was 0.13 behind in second, and world super-G champion Christof Innerhofer of Italy took third, 0.40 off the lead. Erik Guay of Mont-Tremblant, Que., was the top Canadian in fifth.

Svindal extended his lead in the discipline standings to 171 points over Matteo Marsaglia of Italy, and he closed the gap to overall leader Marcel Hirscher to 88 points. The Austrian skipped the race.

Guay lost time when he took a direct line into a turn, a small mistake that likely cost him a place on the podium.

"I'm happy that I'm fifth but bummed that I'm not on the podium," Guay said. "This one turn I pushed in fairly direct and went into the soft snow. I skied extremely well on the bottom section.

"I just feel like it's the same story -- I skied really well in sections but didn't put it all together."

Jan Hudec of Calgary was 15th, Vancouver's Manuel Osborne-Paradis was 22nd, Ben Thomsen of Invermere, B.C., was 28th and Calgary's John Kucera was 34th.

Svindal, from Norway, saw his victory as ideal preparation for the world championships in Schladming, where the men's super-G takes place in 12 days' time.

With Saturday's downhill in Kitzbuehel, followed by the super-G and a downhill in Schladming, Svindal knows this is the time of the season to peak.

"That's four races in a row where I have a good chance to win," said Svindal, who crashed into safety nets at last week's downhill in Switzerland. "If you look at one race separately, you can become nervous. If it's four races, it's easier to get over the bad luck card that I drew in Wengen."

Halfway down his run, Svindal trailed leader Mayer by 0.02 but attacked the second part in impressive style to deny the Austrian a surprise victory.

Earning his first World Cup podium while being loudly cheered by a home crowd left Mayer nearly speechless.

"I don't know what to say, I am totally excited," said the son of Helmut Mayer, a silver medallist in super-G at the Calgary Olympics in 1988.

"Kitzbuehel is like a child's dream," Mayer said. "Every time you watched TV in your childhood, you saw Kitzbuehel and the many emotions. I am proud to be on the podium here."

Innerhofer, who started ahead of most of the favourites in eighth, shouted out loudly in the finish area to celebrate his run, which was by far the fastest until then.

The Italian has been in the middle of a dispute with governing body FIS, who gave him start position 46th for Saturday's downhill as a punishment. In Thursday's downhill training, Innerhofer ignored a stop signal from a jury member who waved the yellow flag.

The Italian, however, claimed a jury member allowed him to ski down the course. He finally stopped his run after being shown a second yellow flag.

The incident made Innerhofer "more angry than normal."

"But I had to concentrate on the race," he added. "I must not think that I must show something more. I must ski 100 per cent and not 120, so I focused on the race and tried to forget other things."

Innerhofer, who won in Wengen last week, trails leader Svindal in the downhill standings by 52 points. His late start on Saturday will likely reduce his chances of closing that gap.

"I must find the right balance again. I want to ski how I can," Innerhofer said. "For the moment, I am in great shape. I feel sorry that I must start so late, because I only did what the guy said to me but I will accept it."

Teammate Kjetil Jansrud led Svindal on his run until he lost speed coming out of a sharp turn before the finish section and finished 0.64 back in fourth.

Ted Ligety of the United States had a similar mistake to Jansrud and came 0.83 back in sixth for his best career result in Kitzbuehel. Ligety was third in the overall standings, trailing Hirscher by 199 points.

Former overall champion Benjamin Raich of Austria competed in his 400th World Cup and finished 1.84 behind Svindal in 25th.

The 73rd Hahnenkamm event continues on Saturday with the classic downhill on the Streif, followed by a slalom the next day. The added downhill and slalom results will also count as a combined event.

Aksel Lund Svindal (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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