Kostelic Nabs First Career Super-G in Kitzbuhel
KITZBUHEL, AUSTRIA – Ivica Kostelic continued his torrid pace of 2011, racing to an astounding fifth World Cup victory in just 20 days, while accomplishing the feat on one of the tougher super-G courses on the circuit.
For the 31-year-old Croatian, who won a slalom in Wengen just six days ago, it was the first super-G win of his 11-year World Cup career.
Starting third out of the gate, his time of 1:17.33 on the 2150-meter Streifalm piste would hold up through 58 more competitors.
“If you want to win somewhere for the first time in a speed event, you want that to be in Kitzbühel,” said Kostelic. “I’m very proud of that.”
Coming into the Hausberg bump and approaching the lower section of the course, Kostelic clocked a speed of 103.8 kph and made up 0.34 seconds between the last split and finish on leader at the time, Yannick Bertrand of France.
“Basically, the run was pretty smooth and when I saw the one-second advantage, I knew it was good,” said the Croatian. “I think I won the race coming out of Larchenschuss and into Hausberg. I was faster than all the guys there and that was important.”
Kostelic’s previous best super-G result occurred last season at World Cup finals in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, where he was runner-up to Canada’s Erik Guay.
Austria’s Georg Streitberger landed on the podium for the second consecutive year at a super-G at Kitzbühel. The 29-year-old Austrian, who received one of the biggest ovations of the day upon completing his run, improved on a third place showing last year, finishing second 0.23 behind Kostelic.
"I was really happy for this, nobody was close to Ivica," said the Austrian. "Some of my friends were here today and now I just want to have a good race tomorrow also."
Aksel Lund Svindal continued what has been a very consistent season thus far, earning his fifth podium, while challenging Kostelic, but ultimately finishing third, 0.28 off the speedy Croatian’s pace.
“Actually, I didn’t see the time at the finish since I managed to crash or fall down,” said the Norwegian two-time overall World Cup champion. “I saw some paper fireworks shoot out so I thought that was a good sign.”
Defending Kitzbühel super-G champion Didier Cuche was the next to attack gates after Svindal. Although he pulled back nearly five-tenths on the lower section of the Streifalm, the veteran Swiss was still 0.08 slower than the Norwegian after crossing the line.
Austrian veterans Michael Walchhofer and Benjamin Raich were both having subpar runs, before missing gates on the steep and tricky face entering the lower Zielschuss section of the course.
Last year, Kostelic was 16th in super-G here in Kitzbühel. Friday only marked his second-ever World Cup super-G podium.
"I'm not surprised that he's doing well in super-G," said Svindal. "I'm a little bit surprised that he's winning every race in January. He's one of the guys to beat for the overall, like he was last season, and like he would have been in 2009, if it wasn't for the back problems."
At the post-race press conferences, today's podium finishers spoke about yesterday's horrific crash at the Mausefalle by Austria's Hans Grugger, which resulted in skull-brian trauma and a chest injury. The 29-year-old is in stable condition and has been placed in an induced coma after undergoing a successful operation at the University Hospital in Innsbruck. All racers and race officials wished the best to Grugger and his family.
"It was just brutal when Hans crashed yesterday," said Kostelic. "I felt everyone was quite shocked at the Streif yesterday. This year again, we have a very bumpy course and it's going to be difficult again tomorrow. You have to get this out of your head and just do what you have to do."
Kostelic padded his lead in the overall standings with the triumph, and currently lies ahead of Svindal 826-571 heading into tomorrow’s Hahnenkamm downhill. Last year the Croatian had his best-ever downhill result finishing seventh, while Svindal was fifth.
-Written by Brian Pinelli
Follow FIS on Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/fisalpine
Follow Brian on Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/Brian_Pinelli