Waking up Friday morning morning, it was hard to imagine there would be a super-G race in Kitzbuehel. Heavy, wet snow had fallen in town and high winds combined with low visibility plagued the Streif. After determining that conditions on the lower portion of the course were unsafe, race officials made the unprecedented decision to move the super-G start up to the top Mausefalle jump of the downhill and finish just before the Hausberg and the iconic Red Bull arch.
“It’s super interesting,” commented U.S. men’s head coach Sasha Rearick during inspection. “No one has ever raced a super-G race on the Steilhang and going down the road. It’s all going to be about the speed you can take off the Steilhang, down onto the road, and ski the bottom with super aggressiveness and fine, fine, aerodynamics.”
With the entire schedule moved back nearly two hours to accommodate for the changes, racing finally got underway in the early afternoon.
It was an interesting finish area vibe as the race actually ended before athletes came in sight of the normal finish. After crossing the line, racers took a bypass road around the Hausberg traverse and would freeski down to the waiting crowd.
The change of plans did little to phase Norwegian star Aksel Lund Svindal who used an incredibly strong middle gliding section to claim his third Kitzbuehel super-G title ahead of teammate Kjetil Jansrud in second and Austrian defending super-G champion Matthias Mayer.
“Obviously, it feels great,” Svindal said after the race. “The downhill is on tomorrow and I’m already feeling the nerves that tomorrow is another tough day on the mountain but this is a good start so I’m very happy with this. It’s a very different race than what we expected when we went to bed last night. Different conditions, total different start and finish actually. It’s a super-G that no one has ever skied before. Inspection was kind of tricky but I think we had a good plan and I executed well and that’s why I’m happy right now.”
Racing super-G down the top of the downhill track was a new challenge for the racers and actually leveled the playing field between veterans and newcomers as nobody had ever skied super-G on that section of the course before.
“It was pretty gnarly,” added Jansrud. “Different from what we’ve done but the biggest difference is that nobody is at the start with any experience of how this runs so everyone goes in there almost halfway blind. You don’t really know how it’s going to feel but I think it was cool.”
Mayer, who took the Kitzbuehel super-G title last season, had the upper hand over Svindal at the first interval but was unable to match the Attacking Viking’s gliding skills through the middle section and slid into third behind the two Norwegians.
“I think the win was not possible for me today,” Mayer admitted. “Aksel was very fast, especially in the middle section, but I’m happy with my third place. I had a good run, I had a good fight, and the conditions were not easy, snowing and very bumpy so I’m happy about it. It was a little bit confusing for everyone but especially the conditions were very difficult with the snowfall. It’s a little bit different than the last years but you had to push very hard and give everything.”
The Americans had their fair share of troubles as the squad could only muster a team best 24th place from two-time Olympic super-G medalist Andrew Weibrecht. Thomas Biesemeyer finished 26th and Bryce Bennett and Wiley Maple both had impressive attack-from-the-back performances from bib 64 and 67 to finish 27th and 29th, respectively. Steven Nyman finished 32nd and Jared Goldberg did not finish his run.
“I wasn’t really happy with it,” lamented Weibrecht in the finish. “I thought that I skied some parts OK, but on that long flat I just feel like I got out of the track there a little bit and just bled time. It’s a totally different run. It goes from being pretty mellow to being in your face right away, so it was a fun hill to ski and definitely a different look at it, which was cool, but I wish I skied better.”
Saturday marks the 78th running of the Hahnenkamm downhill. Two years ago, Svindal crashed out in the Hausbergkante with the lead and has spent the better part of the last two seasons recovering from the resulting knee injury. With the opportunity to claim his first Hahnenkamm downhill less than 24-hours away, Svindal looks to leave nothing to chance.
“Confidence fairly hight but still a lot of respect,” Svindal said. “You want to do the Hausberg well but you have to think how you do it and do it smart. Obviously, if you want to win the race, you can’t hold back right there, you gotta ski it well.”
The Hahnenkamm downhill in Kitzbuehel, Austria, is scheduled to start at 11:30am CET on Saturday, Jan. 20.
- Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) – Head/Head/Head
- Kjetil Jansrud (NOR) – Head/Head/Head
- Matthias Mayer (AUT) – Head/Head/Head
- Hannes Reichelt (AUT) – Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
- Adrien Theaux (FRA) – Head/Head/Head
- Beat Feuz (SUI) – Head/Head/Head
- Peter Fill (ITA) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Andreas Sander (GER) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Blaise Giezendanner (FRA) – Head/Head/Head
- Vincent Kriechmayr (AUT) – Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points||WC Points|
|1||15||421328||SVINDAL Aksel Lund||1982||NOR||1:30.72||0.00||100|
|12||9||422139||KILDE Aleksander Aamodt||1992||NOR||1:32.25||+1.53||18.21||22|
|43||45||380292||ZRNCIC DIM Natko||1986||CRO||1:35.16||+4.44||52.86||0|
|44||62||192504||MERMILLOD BLONDIN Thomas||1984||FRA||1:35.18||+4.46||53.10||0|
|51||60||990116||DE ALIPRANDINI Luca||1990||ITA||1:36.33||+5.61||66.79||0|
|57||71||54106||BREITFUSS KAMMERLANDER Simon||1992||BOL||1:39.03||+8.31||98.93||0|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|70||460071||ACHIRILOAIE Ioan Valeriu||1990||ROU||0|
|37||512031||BARANDUN Gian Luca||1994||SUI||0|
|Did not start 1st run|
|27||422310||SEJERSTED Adrian Smiseth||1994||NOR||0|