With the flip-flopping of the speed schedule in Beaver Creek, Colorado, to have Saturday’s traditional downhill take place on Friday due to forecasted weather, speculation swirled over whether Saturday’s super-G would even happen with upwards of 20 centimeters of snow expected to fall Friday evening into Saturday. At sunrise on super-G day, things could not have looked much worse.
“Whiteout” was probably the best way to describe conditions during the morning’s inspection as race officials elected to move the start down to the reserve location, known as “Pick 6,” last used in 2015 when conditions were similar and Austria’s Marcel Hirscher won his first World Cup super-G. Large, heavy snowflakes continued to fall as the original start time of 11:00am MTN approached and the call was made to push the start time back, first by 30 minutes, and then a full hour to 12:00 noon.
Eventually, the weather began to ease and the start was confirmed. Snow continued to fall throughout the race and visibility rolled in and out a few times but racing continued largely unhindered save for a couple of course holds for minor crashes.
At the end of it all, Austria’s Max Franz charged his way to his second victory in seven days after also winning last week’s downhill in Lake Louise, Canada. Switzerland’s Mauro Caviezel continued his hot-streak of podium finishes in second, 0.33 seconds back. The story of the day, however, was a rarely seen three-way tie for third place between Italy’s Dominik Paris and Norwegians Aksel Lund Svindal and Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, who each finished 0.41 seconds behind Franz for a total of five racers on the podium.
“I haven’t seen anything like that before, it’s crazy,” Franz said of the crowded podium. “It was not easy today; it was snowing but the slope couldn’t have been better. I had to push as hard as I could and I made a little mistake on the top but that gave me the last push for the last two splits.”
Franz’s mistake was visible on course; he took a big, right-footed turn just below the giant slalom start too direct, forcing his line very deep heading into the traverse. Traditional wisdom would say that mistake would cost the Austrian precious tenths of a second. However, Franz ended up building time in that section of the course and carried that momentum to victory on the bottom.
“In my head, I made a mistake,” he explained. “I thought I had to push more and the rest of the race was really good so the mistake was almost a good thing toady.”
Caviezel has been the man of the series in Beaver Creek thus far with back-to-back runner-up finishes. The Swiss racer also finished third in last week’s super-G in Lake Louise and now wears the coveted red bib as leader of the World Cup super-G standings.
“I really don’t know [what it is], it’s just been great,” he said after the race. “I don’t know what’s going on but it’s a good feeling and I enjoy it a lot. I tried to fight and maybe I took a more direct line. I pushed the whole course and it was a little bit surprising for me to end in second place. The feeling was not so good but with these conditions, you never really have a good feeling but right now I am happy.”
The last time there was a three-way tie on the men’s World Cup was way back in 1973 when Austria’s Joseph Walcher, Manfred Grabler, and Peter Feyersinger also all tied for third place. For the women, the last three-way tie was the 2006 Kvitfjell super-G when Lindsey Vonn (then Lindsey Kildow) tied for the win with Switzerland’s Nadia Styger and Austria’s Michaela Dorfmeister.
“This is the first time I’ve ever been on the podium with five guys,” said Svindal. “It’s almost better, we don’t have to fight, let’s just tie and get everyone up there and then it’s a party.”
“Super-G is always different because we always have different conditions, different course setters; everything is different,” added Paris. “I came down tied with Aleks and thought it was a good run. Then Aksel came down also and it was super crazy.”
It was Kilde’s first podium since finishing – interestingly enough – in a tie for third with Caviezel at the 2017 World Cup Finals super-G in Aspen, Colorado. Kilde has been searching for that form ever since and was very pleased to once again climb the steps of a World Cup podium.
“It’s been some ups and downs, for sure,” Kilde explained. “I tried to just stay positive. Last year I didn’t have one podium at all, I had some fourth places but the feeling of being back on the podium is really good. I’ve been waiting for it for a little bit because I felt that the speed was there but I was doing these stupid mistakes which I tried to get rid of now. Today was one of the days where I felt I had a pretty decent run.”
For American Travis Ganong, it was an important step in the right direction as he continues to find his footing back on the World Cup after tearing his ACL last December at the downhill in Bormio, Italy. Ganong has admittedly been struggling somewhat with the mental aspect of returning from injury but finally felt like he was overcoming his early-season nerves with his performance on Saturday.
“Today I was ready to push a little harder and just turn my brain off and just enjoy it,” Ganong said. “That’s what it takes; it’s amazing how your mind can dictate how your results are. When you’re thinking too much, it gets in the way of the skiing sometimes. I’m getting to the point now where I’ve had a couple races under my belt and I’m starting to find that fire again and relax and enjoy it.”
Ganong was joined in the top 30 by Ryan Cochran-Siegle in 17th, Steven Nyman in 20th from bib 64, Ted Ligety in 22nd, and Thomas Biesemeyer in 26th. Bryce Bennett finished in 39th, Wiley Maple 41st, Jared Goldberg 51st, and River Radamus 54th.
Racing action in Beaver Creek continues on Sunday, Dec. 2 with the men’s GS. First run start time is scheduled for 9:45am MTN.
1. Max Franz (AUT)- Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
2. Mauro Caviezel (SUI)- Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
3. Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR)- Head/Head/Head
3. Dominik Paris (ITA)- Nordica/Nordica/Marker
3. Aleksander Aamodt Kilde (NOR)- Head/Head/Head
6. Christoph Krenn (AUT)- Head/Head/Head
7. Vincent Kriechmayr (AUT)- Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
8. Matthias Mayer (AUT)- Head/Head/Head
9. Klemen Kosi (SLO)- Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
10. Kjetil Jansrud (NOR)- Head/Head/Head
For complete FIS results, please click here.