Jansrud completes his set of Olympic medals
KRASNAYA POLYANA - Kjetil JANSRUD (NOR) won Norway's fourth consecutive Olympic super G gold medal, completing his personal Olympic medal set, on a day in which records melted away even quicker than the snow at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Centre.
Bode MILLER, the first USA skier to win medals at three different Olympic Games after taking bronze and the oldest Olympic alpine skiing medallist of all time, will grab many of the headlines but all four of the super G medallists on Sunday morning will be keeping the statisticians busy for days to come.
MILLER's fellow countryman Andrew WEIBRECHT swapped medal places with his compatriot from the 2010 Games, winning the silver medal to add to his super G bronze from Vancouver four years ago. In the process the 28-year-old joined MILLER in becoming only the fourth man to win multiple Olympic super G medals.
And still the records fell. Joint bronze medallist Jan HUDEC (CAN) became the first Canadian skier to win an Olympic medal outside of the downhill and the first of his countrymen to win an Olympic alpine skiing medal for 20 years.
The Rosa Khutor Alpine Centre has swiftly gained a reputation for producing highly dramatic races and unfancied medallists. If anything, the men's super G surpassed the previous five alpine events at Sochi 2014 on both counts.
The 36-year-old MILLER set the pace from bib 13. A smooth, if typically loose, run was only partially spoiled by a significant mistake off the final jump. The five-time Olympian and six-time Olympic medallist was pushed wide on the final gates and lost potentially golden milliseconds.
JANSRUD, with the downhill bronze medal already in his pocket, proved just how costly MILLER's error was. The Norwegian was down on MILLER's time in each of the first two intermediate splits, but by maintaining his speed over a fine lower section, the Vancouver 2010 giant slalom silver medallist edged out the USA skier by 0.53 seconds.
So far, not so extraordinary.
But running from bib 22, HUDEC was the first to shake expectations. The 32-year-old has never won a super G world cup race, has just one podium finish this season and was 23rd in the super G at the 2010 Games. His lone silver medal, in the 2007 downhill world championship, seemed ever further away with each passing season. If no one expected anything from the Canadian, no one told HUDEC.
In similar style to JANSRUD, HUDEC picked up vital split-seconds on the lower section and matched MILLER's time to share a dramatic bronze. It is the second time at the 2014 Games that an alpine medal has been shared and the sixth in history.
Anything HUDEC could do, WEIBRECHT could better. If MILLER is a past master at peaking for Olympic Games, WEIBRECHT is the undisputed guru of Olympic specialism. Outside of Olympic Winter Games, the USA skier's best super G result is 10th in a world cup race back in December 2011 yet he is now the proud owner of two Olympic super G medals.
For MILLER, now the oldest Olympic alpine medal winner and equal second in the all-time list of Olympic alpine medal winners, it was an emotional triumph.
"It's been such a tough two years, with my brother passing away and all the injuries. Loss and struggle are tough, but I came out and performed well today. I'm just finally getting a little luck," said MILLER.
Gold medal winner JANSRUD, whose achievement means he has matched MILLER in winning the full set of Olympic medals, was typically understated in his assessment of his 2014 Games so far.
"So far this Olympic Games has gone better than I had hoped. I am floating. It's the biggest thing you can win," said the 2014 Olympic super G champion.