Super-G stunner as Kueng conquers Birds of Prey
BEAVER CREEK, USA – It was a day of full of surprises at the super G race on the Birds of Prey course in Beaver Creek. Switzerland’s Patrick Kueng zoomed down the course with bib #28 to steal the victory. Following in Kueng’s footsteps was Otmar Striedinger (AUT), who snatched second place with bib #45. Austria’s Hannes Reichelt and Italy’s Peter Fill could only watch in awe as they were bumped down to third place, sharing the honors after finishing 0.38 behind the late starter.
Kueng won the race by a 0.24 margin giving the Swiss their first victory in a men’s speed event since March 2012 when Beat Fuez won in Kvitfjell. It gives the traditional alpine nation its first glimmer of hope after a tough 2012/13 campaign.
When Kueng crossed the finish line, it sent a ripple of surprise through the crowd. The 29 year-old had never placed in the top three in the super-G and it was his first-ever win in any discipline in the Audi FIS World Cup. His only previous podiums were one second and one third place finish, both in downhill.
“It’s a really strong group of guys competing right now and it is not so easy to get on the podium so I am especially happy with today’s result,” said Kueng.
Almost 30 minutes later, with an amazing late run Striedinger sent the second wave of shock through the stands when he claimed his first-ever podium finish at the World Cup level and bumped the field down a notch.
“I can’t believe it, this is a dream,” said an emotional Striedinger after the race. “I said to myself at the start gate that I really had to push it and give it my all, but this second place finish is really unbelievable for me.”
Reichelt and Fill shared third place and both earned a podium place for the second straight race after the duo took second and third in yesterday’s downhill.
For Fill, the last two days has been a change in fortune after he endured a four year podium drought. “I don’t know what it is,” said Fill. “ I don’t think it’s the course, to be honest it's not my favorite, but I know I really like the snow here.”
The sun refused to show up on the Birds of Prey, but conditions on the slope still proved to be great. French coach Patrice Morisod set up a challenging yet very interesting course, combining technical turns with straighter, gliding sections. Several athletes struggled to make it through the upper section, while they fought not to lose time on the flatter lower part of the course.
Kueng solved the riddle of the lower part of the course, “I had a good line at the bottom and was able to keep my momentum through the flatter part. That helped me a lot today.”
Before the start, all eyes were on Aksel Lund Svindal. Svindal entered the race with four straight super-G wins under his belt. Kueng’s surprise victory ended Svindal’s streak and dashed the Norwegian’s hope of setting the record for most consecutive victories in the super-G.
The other big favorite, Italian Matteo Marsaglia, was going for two straight super-G wins at Beaver Creek, he had a very strong start and was in a great position to clock a very fast time, but did not finish the race after falling on his hip and missing a gate on the very last section.
Kueng’s win also killed Reichelt’s hopes of becoming the first man to win three super Gs at Beaver Creek.
With another storm front expected to arrive later today, tomorrow’s giant slalom could also be full of twists and turns. The first race begins a 9:45 local time (17:45 CET).