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Dec. 1: Super G: Austrian Reichelt fends off Canadian Guay for first career win

Dec. 1: Super G: Austrian Reichelt fends off Canadian Guay for first career winAustrian Hannes Reichelt won his first career World Cup race Thursday, with teammate Matthias Lanzinger placing third. Canadian Erik Guay had the best super G result of his career, finishing second.

Some racers sharply criticized race officials for permitting the race in windy and snowy conditions. Guay said that avoiding this negativity helped him.

‘I saw everybody talking to each other, saying ‘I can’t believe we’re doing this,’ and I kind of used that to my advantage and got psyched on it’ said Guay.

American Daron Rahlves had a solid run, but one mistake on the upper section of the course perhaps cost him a podium finish. Rahlves was fifth.

Rahlves was one of many skiers who skied wide off the line on a tough left-footed turn before the knoll that forms the Screech Owl jump in the downhill here.

There was a piece of terrain just in the apex of the turn, causing athletes to lose pressure and get late just when it was least convenient just before the long flat section in the middle of the course.

Bode Miller, the reigning super G champion, skied off-course early in his run, blinded by frozen moisture inside his goggles – a problem that afflicted him at Lake Louise last week.

“It’s an area we’ve gotta tackle, because we can control,” said men’s head DH/SG coach John McBride. “I’d have to look at the tape and see whether it was a tactical error or what, but I’m sure that the goggles played a part today.”

Miller was second-fastest to the first intermediate time, finishing the top section (the most difficult) in 21.53 seconds, which was four-hundredths slower than Didier Cuche of Switzerland. Cuche blew out just after that interval.

Reichelt, whose previous best was second in a 2003 Val Gardena super G, finished in 1 minute, 17.33 seconds, with Guay just a sliver behind in 1:17.37 and Lanzinger in third in 1:17.49. Austrian Hermann Maier was eighth.

Known as “Richie” to his teammates, Reichelt won the Europa Cup — skiing’s second-tier of racing below World Cup. He did this despite a serious knee injury at the Europa Cup finals, where in the downhill he blew out his ACL and damaged the head of his tibia.

Lanzinger, who turns 25 next week, won the combined gold way back at the 2000 world junior championships in Quebec — where Marco Sullivan and Caroline Lalive were the big American lights.

“Today was one of the most difficult races I ever completed’ he said.

Aksel Lund Svindal, the 22-year-protégé of the Norwegian masters Lasse Kjus and Kjetil Andre Aamodt, had another good showing, finishing fourth. His worst finish this season is eleventh. On Sunday, he won the Lake Louise super G .

The weather was the number-one topic of conversation in the finish area.

“It was nasty, you had to saddle up and get ready for everything coming at you,” said coach McBride. “Whether it was the same for everybody? Probably not. That’s a little bit of a bummer, when one guy can’t see and the other guy can. But it’s ski racing, it’s mother nature.”

Two super G races down, four to go
This was the second super G of the season, the first one having been raced in Lake Louise just five days before. As the winner of that race, Svindal wore the red discipline-leader’s bib Thursday, and will wear it in the next race too, in Val Gardena on Dec. 16, having extended his lead in those standings.

There are just four more super G races this season: Val Gardena (Dec. 16), Kitzbuehel (Jan. 20), Garmisch-Partenkirchen (Jan. 29), and Are, Sweden (March 16).

The last five winners of the Beaver Creek super G have been from a diverse handful of countries: Hermann Maier of Austria (1999), Freddie Nyberg of Sweden (2000), Didier Cuche of Switzerland (2002), Bjarne Solbakken of Norway (2003) and Stephan Goergl of Austria (2004). Goergl, whose victory in last year’s super G was a bit of a surprise, finished 16th this year.

Last season, four different Austrians won super G races: Goergl (Beaver Creek), Michael Walchhofer (Val Gardena), Maier (Kitzbuehel and Kvitfjell) and Christoph Gruber (Garmisch). Austrians also accounted for six of the top 10 places in the discipline standings at the end of the season.

The race within the race: Austrian Olympic qualification
It’s a startling fluke of the calendar that there will be only three more super G races between now and the Olympic Winter Games in February: Val Gardena (Dec. 16), Kitzbuehel (Jan. 20) and Garmisch-Partenkirchen (Jan. 29).

This fact has serious implications for the Austrian team, which falls into an internecine battle for every Olympic and World Championships start position. The competition for these spots is an emotional subplot to the World Cup season in Austria.

Only four Austrians will be invited to race there, but the list of Austrian potential super G winners is longer than four. This is the nation that swept the top nine spots in one World Cup race in 1999, and has won seven of the last eight season super G titles (the exception being last season, when Bode Miller swiped it from Hermann Maier at the last minute).

On Tuesday, the head coach of the Austrian men’s team, Toni Giger, was asked what would happen if four different Austrians won the four World Cup super G races between then and the Olympics. Would those four Austrians be guaranteed start spots at the Olympics? Giger said nein: January results will be weighted more heavily, and strong performances in GS or downhill can help an Austrian get one of those super G spots.

So even with his win today, Reichelt knows that he hasn’t guaranteed himself a bib at Sestriere, where the Olympic super G takes place on Feb. 18, a Saturday.

Giger did say that Reichelt has promise, and is a future Austrian star, especially in GS and super G. “For us it’s good to have young blood,” said Giger.

Giger said Reichelt’s win validates the Austrian team’s philosophy of not putting skiers into the World Cup too early. Since his debut in 2001, Reichelt has only been entered in 20 World Cup races.

‘It’s sometimes better to take a step back to the Europa Cup, win more races, and then come back to the World Cup,” said Giger. “I want that the young guys, that they win.”

Falling out of the start
Friday’s downhill at Beaver Creek starts out on the long flats called the Flyway, but the super G is all business right out of the start. Skiers are making turns down a steep and icy pitch for the first 20 seconds before things mellow out even slightly.

‘The steepest single pitch at the Birds of Prey is 44 degrees right out of the super G start’ said Greg Johnson, the head of the Beaver Creek race department. ‘Within regular ski areas, a 30-degree pitch is often considered a black diamond.’

Johnson added that it’s important to be careful not to confuse terms when talking about the steepness of a course. ’44 degrees is the same as saying 100 percent grade’ he said. ‘At the Snowbasin downhill during the Olympics, 72 percent was the steepest section, but commentators kept screwing up and calling it 72 degrees. It’s 72 percent. The Birds of Prey is about 100 percent, or 44 degrees. So it’s 30 percent steeper [than Snowbasin] in some places.’

Tomorrow’s race
As soon as the race was over, organizers started moving the start-shack apparatus up the hill for tomorrow’s race the big one. The Birds of Prey downhill has become one of the World Cup’s annual highli
ghts since it was constructed in 1997 for the 1999 World Championships.

‘It takes the very few elite skiers to win on this course’ said Beaver Creek chief executive John Garnsey, who has been part of the race since the beginning. ‘It’s not a course where wax is going to be the reason for the victory. You have to be an exceptional athlete to win this race, not unlike Kitzbuehel.’

Also on Friday, the women’s World Cup will resume in Lake Louise, Alberta, where the women will race the first of two downhills. The women haven’t raced since the World Cup opener in Soelden, Austria in October (Tina Maze of Slovenia won that event).

On Thursday, while the men were racing super G at Beaver Creek, the women were taking their final training run in Lake Louise. Elena Fanchini of Italy won that race. Julia Mancuso was the top American finisher in fifth, but Stacey Cook was right behind in sixth, coming out of the 59th start position.

World Cup
Men’s super G
Beaver Creek, Colo.,
Dec. 1, 2005

1. Hannes Reichelt, AUT 1:17.33
2. Erik Guay, CAN 1:17.37
3. Matthias Lanzinger, AUT 1:17.49
4. Aksel Lund Svindal, NOR 1:18.00
5. Daron Rahlves, USA 1:18.22
6. Didier Defago, SUI 1:18.25
7. Kjetil Andre Aamodt, NOR 1:18.26
8. Hermann Maier, AUT 1:18.27
9. Patrick Staudacher, ITA 1:18.37
10. Tobias Gruenenfelder, SUI 1:18.47
11. Francois Bourque, CAN 1:18.55
12. Fritz Strobl, AUT 1:18.66
13. Michael Walchhofer, AUT 1:18.71
14. Hans Grugger, AUT 1:18.76
15. Peter Fill, ITA 1:18.77
16. Stephan Goergl, AUT 1:18.84
17. Ambrosi Hoffmann, SUI 1:18.97
18. Benjamin Raich, AUT 1:19.08
19. Andreas Schifferer, AUT 1:19.16
20. Konrad Hari, SUI 1:19.18
21. Bjarne Solbakken, NOR 1:19.23
22. Walter Girardi, ITA 1:19.44
22. Marco Buechel, LIE 1:19.44
24. Patrik Jaerbyn, SWE 1:19.56
25. Steven Nyman, USA 1:19.65
25. Juerg Gruenenfelder, SUI 1:19.65
27. John Kucera, CAN 1:19.68
27. Lasse Kjus, NOR 1:19.68
29. Luke Deane, AUS 1:20.32
30. Gauthier DeTessieres, FRA 1:20.48
Other North Americans:
31. Scott Mccartney, USA 1:20.67
DNF: Bode Miller, Justin Johnson, Marco Sullivan, USA; Manuel Osborne, Jeff Hume, CAN.

THE SCOOP
By Hank McKee

Equipment
Men’s SG, Beaver Creek, Dec. 1, 2005
Skiers, skis/boots/bindings
1. Reichelt, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
2. Guay, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
3. Lanzinger, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
4. Svindal, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
5. Rahlves, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
6. Defago, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
7. Aamodt, Dynastar/Lange/Tyrolia
8. Maier, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
9. Staudacher, Head/Lange/Tyrolia
10. Gruenenfelder, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon

Men’s World Cup super G, Beaver Creek, Colo., Dec./ 1, 2005 … It is the fifth race of the season, the fourth of the men’s 34 race, 4 combined schedule. … It is the second of six men’s super G’s. … It is the first of a four-race set of men’s races at Beaver Creek encompassing all four disciplines. …

It is the first career World Cup win for Hannes Reichelt. … He has just 10 scoring results to his credit, eight of them in SG, the remaining two in GS. … He is the 18th Austrian male to win a World Cup SG. … He is 25 years of age from Radstadt. … Underwent knee surgery March 12, 2005, following a fall in Europa Cup finals.

It is the second career podium for Erik Guay, the previous coming at Lake Louise in DH Nov. 29, 2003. … It is the fourth SG podium for a Canadian male ever. … And second only to Felix Belcyzk’s win at Luekerbad in 1988.

It is just the seventh career scoring result for Matthias Lanzinger and his first podium. … His previous best had been 13th in SG at Lake Louise Nov. 28, 2004.

It is the 37th career top-five result for Daron Rahlves. … His 13th in SG. … He has been 5th and 3rd in the two SG’s held to date. … It is the third-best career result for Francois Bourque and second-best of the season, having placed 5th in GS at Solden Oct. 23. … It is the best two-man placing in SG for the Canadians ever, though Bourque and Guay were third and 11th at Garmisch last season with Bourque winning the better position. … Steven Nyman recorded his third career scoring result. … Scott Macartney missed points by one position, finishing 31st.

Race held in windy conditions with limited visibility. … Top eight were within the same second. … Top 21 within two seconds. … Aksel Svindal maintains the lead in the overall standings 214-192 to Hermann Maier. … Kjetil Aamodt is third at 161. … Erik Guay is the top North American in seventh with 118. … Daron Rahlves is the top American in 9th at 105, Bode Miller is 10th at 102. … Svindal leads the SG standings 150-132 over Hannes Reichelt. … Rahlves is third at 105 and Guay fourth at 104. … Miller also DNF in SG at Beaver Creek two seasons ago.

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