The men’s super G of the FIS World Ski Championships at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany today (Feb. 9) was not just a gorgeous test, it was an exam. Christof Innerhofer graduated, rising to the challenge to record the second ever super G championships for an Italian male.
In collecting his first career super G victory Innerhofer pushed Austrian Hannes Reichelt into second and a silver medal while the incredible Ivica Kostelic continued what is surely a career season with the bronze.
Bode Miller, definitely gunning for the championship, produced his usual exciting performance, survived his first error and cashed in after the second, standing for the final gates of the Kandahar 2 course and wound up 12th, narrowly ahead of U.S. youngster Tommy Ford in 14th.
If there was a true star – or perhaps villain – on the day it was the gnarly track itself. Under a clear sky, the tough but fair course drops through the Bavarian forest presenting a hard but scratchable surface. On top of that it is rough and bumpy. It took until the eighth skier of the morning, Austrian Romed Baumann, before anyone had truly skied the course. As the core of the first seed rolled through the start order it became evident the man who could conquer the Kandahar would be a true champion.
Miller, running 11th, appeared he might be that man. With a lead he caught his arm on a gate and had his ski pole ripped from his grip. It wasn’t so much a mistake as a misfortune. The gate had caused grief to most of the ten racing in front of him and would continue to pester the field. He was on a high enough line and though his momentum was sucked away by the drag of his pole, he continued to put up good splits. His second mistake, above the finish, was much more costly. Without hope of the win in a race where fourth place matters not a wit, he stood and coasted to the finish.
“Once I made that mistake, I could have tucked to the finish, but my speed was already gone,” Miller said. “It was challenging, but I think it was what this course really should be. If it was smooth and soft it would have been really basic. You see a guy like Innerhofer ski that way he did, he deserves to win it. I was impressed with the way he skied.”
Reichelt, skiing right after Miller, produced the first complete run of the day for a huge .88 lead over Baumann. But Innerhofer, who has produced half of his top six World Cup placings this season, was clean and on line in his run as well as six tenths of a second faster than the Austrian.
“I really liked the course, actually,” said Innerhofer who dedicated the victory to a large group from his fan club present. “I felt great, felt strong. I promised myself I would not take fourth again. I tried to be as aggressive as I could. It’s better to let the skis run and not think about it too much.”
Kostelic, a slalom winner on the World Cup since 2001 and the World slalom champ in 2003, has a new found artistry in the speed disciplines, something he illustrated in certain fashion by winning the Kitzbuehel super G just weeks ago. Solid on his skis as usual he kept pace with the two leaders, gave away nothing and wound up on the podium, a placing 10 better than anything even his World Champion sister Janica ever put up in a World Championship super G, (She did win silver in the discipline twice in Olympic competition).
The defending champion Didier Cuche skied well but dropped back steadily from the leaders to finish fourth, more than a second off the winning pace. Austrians Benjamin Raich and Romed Baumann were fifth and sixth respectively with strong, but hardly error free races. Swiss Carlo Janka, in seventh, touched a hip to the ground in his run. On the DNF list were skiers of undeniable calibre: defending super G World Cup champion Erik Guay, reigning Olympic SG champion Aksel Lund Svindal, Ted Ligety and this season’s SG winner at Lake Louise Tobias Gruenenfelder. They were among a list that stretched to 30.
At 36 Cuche has seen his share of tough courses, but said if this test wasn’t the most difficult it was near the top of the list. “It is a really tough course, a long and blind super G. The snow is hard, but that is not the problem. The problem is that it is so bumpy it makes you really tired and makes it hard to keep the perfect line.”
Or much of any line at all. Kostelic said he would need to skip some race during the rest of this World Championship in order to recover.
“Really it was THE most difficult run I have ever competed in, in any discipline. You had to go to your physical limits.” He said. He said visibility was an issue, something not normally associated with clear blue skies. But the course winds through the forest in the shade and the sun reflects off
snow covered mountains across the valley. Not being able to clearly see the bumpy terrain, he said, heightens the impact of the bumpy course. He also said he expended enough energy to supply a nucleur power plant, but added, “It makes me really proud to be the first male medal in speed events for Croatia.” There are, he said, no super G tracks anywhere in the country.
The silver medal for Reichelt, he said, was “a big step in my career.” He only won a place on the Austria championship team at Hinterstoder last weekend, and then came up with the men’s first medal.
“It was one of the most difficult runs I have participated in. It took great strength,” he said, adding he didn’t feel comfortable at any point on course.
About the only one who did, apparently, was Innerhofer. Said U.S. coach Sasha Rearick: “Innerhofer today threw down and deserved to win over the rest of the gus. He skied with tremendous guts and heart.”
Men’s World Championship super G, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, Feb. 9, 2011
1 Innerhofer, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
2 Reichelt, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
3 Kostelic, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
4 Cuche, Head/Head/Head
5 Raich, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
6 Baumann, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
7 Janka, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
8 Heel, Head/Head/Head
9 Fill, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
10 Theaux, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
Men’s World Championship super G, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, Feb. 9, 2011. … It is the second event of 11 of the World title meet. … the first men’s event.
It is the first career World Championship medal for Christof Innerhofer. … He finished 4th in SG at the 2009 Championships. … He was sixth in SG at the 2010 Olympics. … His best World Cup SG result is third at Are, March 12, 2009. … It is the 49th World Championship medal for Italy, the 17th gold.
It is the first World championship result for Hannes Reichelt. … He was tenth in SG at the 2010 Olympics, his only result of the Games. … He has five World Cup wins, four of them in SG, but only one since 2008, coming last weekend at Hinterstoder. … It is the 202nd World Championship medal for Austria (plus a team medal).
It is the second World Championship medal for Ivica Kostelic having won the gold medal in slalom at St Moritz Feb. 16, 2003. … He has three silver Olympic medals, combined in 2006, slalom and combined 2010. … His best Olympic SG finish is 16th. … His best SG finish at Worlds had been 32nd in 1999. … No Croat had ever won a World Championship medal in super G or downhill. … It is the eighth Croatian World Championship medal.
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Total Time||FIS Points|
|28||55||420148||KARLSEN Truls Ove||1975||NOR||1:44.01||61.46|
|Did not start 1st run|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|20267||ESTEVE RIGAIL Kevin||1989||AND|
|421328||SVINDAL Aksel Lund||1982||NOR|
|30149||SIMARI BIRKNER Cristian Javier||1980||ARG|
|491151||DE LA CUESTA Paul||1988||SPA|