In the end Aksel Lund Svindal made the Italians – silver medal winner Christof Innerhofer and bronze medalist Peter Fill – look like pretenders, claiming the gold medal of the World Championship super combined by an outstanding 1.01 seconds. But the Italians weren’t complaining.
It was the second straight combined gold in World Championship competition for Svindal, having also claimed the top prize in 2009, but it was his first medal of these championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany and it was well earned.
The Italians were joyful. Fill tossed his ski poles high in air as he recognized his time and Innerhofer held his slalom skis aloft, celebrating his third medal of these championships, an unlikely circumstance from a man with one World Cup win to his credit and the two Italians quickly surrounded Svindal in the finish, anxious to pose for photographers.
The Americans had a rough go.
Tim Jitloff had made a costly mistake in the downhill and pushed gamely from the second start of the slalom to make up a nine second deficit with predictable results. He put up the third fastest slalom run on the day, but wound up tied for 14th, the only U.S. finish.
“I knew I had an opportunity to have a good clean run and I did and I made some points, nothing super exciting but at least it helps me for the next races,” said Jitloff.
Ted Ligety had a decent downhill (11th) and was definitely full-out
attack in the slalom, but exited about half way down.
“I just straddled, that’s kind of been the story of my life in slalom,” said Ligety, adding that had he finished his chances wouldn’t have been that good. “I’m pretty surprised by how well Peter and Christof and Aksel skied the slalom portion. When you are three seconds out you have no chance when those guys are skiing that well in the slalom.”
Bode Miller showed he can exit a race course with as much flamboyence as anyone, flying past the second gate on the slalom hill horizonal to the ground, his skis above his head.
“Bode didn’t have the best downhill run,” said coach Sasha Rearick. “He was cutting off the line too much and going too straight forward for what the conditions could allow.”
Canada did not have a man entered.
With the downhill leg of the race run an hour earlier than the men’s downhill on Saturday – going off at 10am versus 11 – and with a clear night allowing radiant cooling, the Kandahar course was icy and fast. It was a touch smoother than it had been for earlier training runs, but those ragged runs had already had their effect on the combined field. Many skiers had opted out, including Ivica Kostelic, already the World Cup combined champ with three wins in three eveents. The start list for the combined numbered 41 and that dropped to 34 after the downhill.
The slalom leg, across town, started at 2pm and long shadows crossed sections, but by no stretch, all of the steep Gudiberg hill. By the final racers the slalom hill did show rutting, but it held up well.
With much of the field charging trying to make the top three, Svindal, with a large first run lead, was one of few who could afford to take a tactical approach.
“I saw that some took too much risk,” he said “and I tried to ski a little tactically, but I knew some were very quick and I knew I would have to have a good race from top to bottom.”
The gold medal was his fourth in World Championship competition and fifth total, plus he owns a trio of Olympic medals, one in each color. “You always try your best,” he said. I tried my best in the downhill and the super G, too, and it didn’t work out. The third time, it did.”
For Innerhofer, the silver medal completed the cycle for these championships, combined with gold in the super G and bronze in downhill. He said the slalom course set, by Italian coach Massimo Carca had been to his benefit. “I looked at the course and saw I had a chance. … The course was very well set, fast and when it is fast you have to risk and I am good at risks.” Still, he said, “when I saw the results I was surprised. I could hardly believe it.”
The medal for Fill was in some ways the most meaningful of any in these championships. With his father struggling to survive in hospital he dedicated the medal to him. “My mom, my sisters and dad love each other very much and when one suffers we all suffer,” he said. “This was the last time I was going to compete and I gave it my best shot and tried to grab a medal for my dad. I hope this will make him happier, and better, too.”
There were strong efforts put forth by a myriad of racers with solid combined backgrounds. Benjamin Raich, with the hearts of Austrian fans once again heaped on his back, had a good downhill (12th) and a great slalom leg (2nd fastest) but got jammed off the podium by the Italians and Svindal to finish fourth and Czech Ondrej Bank fought hard for his country’s first men’s medal but finished fifth. -HM
By Hank McKee
Men’s World Championship super combined, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, German, Feb. 14, 2011
1 Svindal, Head/Head/Head
2 Innerhofer, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
3 Fill, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
4 Raich, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
5 Bank, Elan/Nordica/Elan
6 Pangrazzi, Rossignol/Lange/Rossignol
7 Myhre, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
8 Zrncic-Dim, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
9 Romar, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
10 Jansrud, Head/Head/Head
Men’s World Championship super-combined, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, Feb. 14, 2011. … It is the sixth of 11 events scheduled during the 41st World Ski Championships and the third of five men’s competitions. … It is the 71st combined in World Championship competition.
It is the sixth World Championship medal for Aksel Lund Svindal. … He won gold in downhill and GS at Are 2007 and combined at Val d’Isere (2009) and here. … He won silver in combined at Bormio (2005) and bronze in super G at Val d’Isere. … He also owns one Olympic medal of each color: gold in super G, silver downhill and bronze GS at Whistler (2010). … He has 14 World Cup victories, just one in combined at Beaver Creek 2006.
It is the third medal in three events at these World Championships for Christof Innerhofer. … He won gold in super G and bronze in downhill. … His best World Cup result in combined is third at Sestriere Feb. 22, 2009.
It is the second career World Championship medal for Peter Fill who won silver in super G at Val d’Isere (2009). … He has never won a World Cup combined, but placed second at Wengen in 2009 and third at Wengen in 2006.
It is a career best of four World Championship results for Tim Jitloff. … He has just a single World Cup combined result, a 24th from Wengen this season.
Austria 4 (3 gold, 1 silver)
Italy 4 (1 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze)
Canada 1 (1 gold)
Norway 1 (1 gold)
USA 2 (2 silver)
Slovenia 1 (1 silver)
Switzerland 2 (2 bronze)
Germany 2 (2 bronze)
Croatia 1 (1 bronze)
Sweden 1 (1 bronze)
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||FIS Points|
|1||21||421328||SVINDAL Aksel Lund||1982||NOR||1:59.49||55.02||2:54.51||0.00|
|7||2||421400||MYHRE Lars Elton||1984||NOR||2:03.39||54.11||2:57.50||19.36|
|21||5||20267||ESTEVE RIGAIL Kevin||1989||AND||2:01.81||1:00.72||3:02.53||51.93|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|25||30149||SIMARI BIRKNER Cristian Javier||1980||ARG|