It's the top step for Svindal in Lake Louise
LAKE LOUISE, Canada- After showing his speed was there, but missing a podium finish in Saturday’s Downhill, Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway was the man to beat in the Super G on Sunday. When it might have seemed like Didier Cuche would be unbeaten this year in Lake Louise, Svindal charged down the slope. With a time of 1 minute, 23.47 seconds, Svindal crossed the finish line 0.23 seconds faster than Cuche. Adrien Theaux of France took third place, with a smooth run he was .64 seconds slower than the leader.
Lake Louise was full of surprises this year, but today it was Jan Hudec of Canada who made the crowd go crazy. With bib number 44, when most of the top 10 finishers thought they secured their spots, Hudec showed no conditions were too rough, and no number too high to ski fast. He was able to make up 40 positions and end up in an amazing 4th place!
Beating the “King of Speed”, as Svindal called Cuche to the press, sure added some satisfaction to his win.
“Cuche looks as good as ever, so you have to try put down a good run to beat him, and today, I definitely got one. I was a bit disappointed about yesterday, I was not able to carry the speed all the way down. So today it was a whole lot better,” Svindal said.
He seemed to enjoy the technical course setting, and didn’t forget to praise the hard work that was put into preparing the course in a week of all but ideal conditions.
“Course setting is good, it’s a SG so it should be like there is some open gates and some more turning gates. The conditions are not good, but this is what we have to work with, and at least there is a lot of snow compared to the other places around the world right now, it’s looking fairly green. This is winter, that’s one of the beauties of skiing, it’s never the same, and it can be anything from this stuff, to ice. But we have skis, and skis are made for snow, so we are able to deal with these conditions. Especially when course workers do a good job like here. Unbelievable, they worked day and night so we could have two good races.”
Although Cuche seemed not to have his expectations set too high, when coming to Lake Louise, he will be walking home with a win and a second place.
“It worked pretty well here in Lake Louise, I never expected to be this fast coming here. But now it’s the second time I win the downhill and now, a podium in SG, it’s a big day,” he commented after climbing on the podium for the second time in two days.
“I really liked it, he can set every SG like that. It was a technical SG, it was turny and the speed was not so fast. It was really nice because he had some change between going a little bit faster and than again, turny. It was a SG where you had to think more than in the past SG races in Lake Louise,” Cuche commented the course setting.
But, Cuche has always loved a challenge, and with bags packed and ticket to Colorado in hand, he is already looking for Beaver Creek next week.
“I feel more confident about racing in Beaver Creek, I really like the challenge there. You need more courage, to be more engaged to be fast, and I really like that. So we will se if I can do the same good result as I have here in Lake Louise.”
After doing a great job in the two Downhill training runs, Adrien Theaux was sure aiming to a podium in the race. Although still great, a 6th place on Saturday left him a little disappointed, so he gave it all in the SG and it paid off with a well deserved 3rd place.
“Today, it was not easy with wind and soft snow, but I am third and, very, very happy,” he said about his performance.
He also didn’t seem to have any problems with the uncommonly turny run.
“It’s OK, it’s not like in the slalom I think, because everyone had the same question in their head last night. It had some turns. But it’s SG, if you did a good inspection it was OK,” and how could it not be when you are the third fastest man on it.
Hannes Reichelt of Austria, who after an amazing performance in the Downhill quickly became one of the favorites for the SG, was not able to shine through as much as expected.
“Not really good, I had a lot of wind. So it is hard to say how much wind the other guys had, but I lost too much time in the first part of the race. On the “Followay” (steep section of the slope) I spent too much time in the line, and I was too slow in this part for a top result,” Reichelt said about his 11th place.
With five racers in the top 12, the Austrians still won’t be leaving Lake Louise too disappointed today. Klaus Kroell in 5th, Joachim Puchner 7th, impressive performances by young talents Matthias Mayer in 8th (bib 35), Manuel Kramer in 12th (bib 60), Max Franz 15th (bib 58) definitely proves they have a strong speed team.
Some other interesting names and high numbers could be found in the top 30. Johan Clarey of France was able to improve his starting number by 51 positions, going from 61 to 10th place. Young Italian Siegmar Klotz went from 65 to 13th place, while Gasper Markic of Slovenia, scored his first World Cup SG points, finishing 14th from bib 42.
We’ve seen all kinds of conditions this past week in Lake Louise; wind, fog, flat light, snow and changing temperatures. It wasn't an easy week for the racers. This morning one could feel the panic rising among the ski technicians. Even though weather forecast predicted similar conditions as Saturday, Sunday morning greeted the teams with some warmer and more humid conditions than expected. A lot of work had to be done in the ski-rooms early in the morning in order for the skis to run fast. Ante Kostelic was the course setter, and he went for a rather technical and turny course set. Compared to last year’s SG, today there were nine gates more. But, due to strong winds in the top section, organizers were forced to move the start 11 gates lower than first planed.
This shortened the course quite a bit, but luckily it didn’t take away much excitement from the race. Ten racers were unable to finish the course, Gauthier De Tessieres of France being the unluckiest of them. After a spectacular crash where we saw him flying in the air doing a flip, he crashed into the nets. It was obvious right away that he had pain in his knee and shoulder. We were later informed that he would be flying to Colorado with the team, and will have an MRI done. A first check up showed his ACL might be torn.
The men’s Tour is now moving to Beaver Creek, Colorado. A Downhill, Super G and Giant Slalom are scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
Check the complete results here.
For a video comment of the race, check here.
by Ana Jelusic