The Saalbach-Hinterglemm super G Friday almost did not get underway, but thankfully for Aleksander Kilde, it did. After close to a three-hour delay, the Norwegian kept his cool and fought through soft snow and variable conditions to win his first World Cup race of the season.
Kilde has been incredibly stable throughout the course of 2019/20, enough so that he has been trailing Henrik Kristoffersen in the race for the overall on and off for the majority of the season. His super G win pushed him just far enough ahead to edge out Kristoffersen by 79 points. Bonus for Kilde, he now leads Mauro Caviezel in the super G standings by 51 points as well.
Kilde has started in 22 races across five disciplines in the 2020 season – super G, downhill, alpine combined, giant slalom, and parallel giant slalom. Of those 22 races, he has finished top 10 in 18 of them. As World Finals approaches, multiple media outlets have begun to question if it’s possible for Kilde to win the overall title despite not having a win yet himself. Friday’s super G he hopes will silence the skepticism.
“After being really stable this year with four-second places, taking on this one was a really good feeling,” said Kilde. “I really wanted this victory. Second place you always get down to why -–- why don’t you win. But then today finally I did, so hopefully I won’t get that question anymore.”
Going into Saalbach, Matthias Mayer had a hold on the super-G standings. During the race on Sunday, the Kitzbuehel winner got caught up in soft snow and exited the course much to his annoyance. Friday’s race “could have [meant] a lot. But there are still three super-G’s outstanding,” he said in an interview with ORF.
Some of the athletes were happy to have gotten a race underway, despite the waiting game. As the season comes to a close, there are only so many opportunities left for guys like Travis Ganong, who have come close to punching onto the podium but continue to miss the step due to tiny mistakes. As Thomas Dressen said after his downhill win on Saturday, the field is so tight currently that there is no room for error if an athlete wants to be on top. Ganong had been leading the field at the top of a course, until running into some soft snow after the second jump that had caused trouble for a lot of the men. The landing seemed to put a stop on a majority of the guy’s speed if it was not executed precisely.
“I lost over seven-tenths of a second on the last split which was super frustrating because I haven’t’ been on the podium in the super-G yet, and I’ve been really close a couple of times and today was a really good chance for me,” Ganong said in the finish. “So I’m bummed out but I’m looking forward to another chance in Kjitvfell and to finals in Cortina.”
“It’s always tough when it’s a big snowstorm and you’re waiting and waiting but in the end, the skies cleared and it stopped snowing and we were able to have a race,” he added. “Everybody is here, everybody wants to race, that’s why we put in all the effort. It’s good we got it off, the conditions were not perfect but it still was a good race and the best guys won.”
Dressen, on the other hand, was not as excited that the race got underway. Not because he did not wish to ski, but because he was concerned for the safety of the athletes.
“There was already a lot of wet heavy snow next to the piste, so I didn’t want to cut it,” Dressen told ORF after his run, prior to the conclusion of the race. “It turned out well for me, but you should consider whether it makes sense to have to push through a race in these conditions. If you get out into the soft snow and cut it, you don’t have control. Hopefully, everyone will come down safe.”
Despite his concerns, the day turned out well for Dressen. He followed up his downhill win with another podium, 0.31 seconds behind Kilde and 0.16 off of second-place finisher Mauro Caviezel. Caviezel is still in the hunt for his first super G win of the season as well. He now sits in second in the super G standings, 56 points behind Kilde.
“We have a similar style. He is one who always goes for it. Basically me too,” Caviezel told SRF. “If I always give everything, I can’t blame myself for anything.”
Next, the World Cup men’s tour stops in Yuzawa Naeba, Japan for slalom and a giant slalom races. On the speed side, an super-G and alpine combined are to be held in Hinterstoder, Austria at the end of the month. The next downhill race will not be until March 7th, in Kvitjell, Norway.
- 1. Aleksander Aamodt Kilde (NOR): 58.30
- 2. Mauro Caviezel (SUI): +0.15
- 3. Thomas Dressen (GER): +0.31
- 4. Christian Walder (AUT): +0.52
- 5. Mattia Casse (ITA): +0.61
- 6. Alexis Pinturault (FRA): +0.63
- 7. Travis Ganong (USA): +0.64
- 7. Andreas Sander (GER): +0.64
- 9. Kjetil Jansrud (NOR): +0.65
- 10. Vincent Kriechmayr (AUT): +0.96
For full results, click here.