Kriechmayr strikes gold as world super-G throws up surprises

·3-min read
Austrian Vincent Kriechmayr won gold in the men's Super G at the Alpine World Ski Championships in Cortina d'Ampezzo

Austria's Vincent Kriechmayr bagged gold in the men's super-G at the world ski championships in Cortina d'Ampezzo on Thursday to improve on his silver medal showing two years ago.

Kriechmayr timed 1min 19.41sec down the 2km-long Vertigine course, finishing 0.07sec ahead of ex-teammate Romed Baumann, who now races for Germany afer changing allegiance before the 2019/20 season following his failure to make the Austrian team.

"At the moment, I'm happy," said the 29-year-old Kriechmayr, who has eight World Cup victories to his name, six in the super-G and two in downhill.

"It's a nice way to start the championships, of course."

Baumann, 35, has won just two World Cup races, both in combined, in his career and his sole podium finish in the super-G was way back in November 2010.

"Everything went so smoothly today, I wasn't even out of puff at the finish, it's unbelievable," said Baumann, who won a world combined bronze for Austria in Schladming in 2013 and becomes the first skier post-WWII to win medals for two countries.

"It's pretty special. It's good to give something back. Germany took me when I was down and they believed in me and it's a great feeling.

"I'm happy to be here and have the chance to compete against my old teammates. We're still friends."

There was another shock as France's Alexis Pinturault took bronze (+0.38), his only World Cup victory in the discipline coming in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, back in 2014, and his last podium finish coming with a third place a season after that.

"Honestly I wasn't really expecting that. The world champs are a day's racing, when you try to give everything," said Pinturault, a huge favourite for Monday's alpine combined.

"It's only at the bottom that you turn around and see what has happened. I'm very happy about how I handled today.

"A podium at the worlds is always a particular emotion."

- Drama throughout -

Italy's Dominik Paris, the defending world champion in the discipline, came in fifth (+0.55), a fine showing as he continues to make his comeback from a serious knee injury in Kitzbuehel last year.

Austrian Matthias Mayer (2018) and Norwegian Kjetil Jansrud (2014), the last two Olympic champions, finished sixth and 12th respectively on an unforgiving course that became increasingly rutted in cold, clear conditions.

There was early drama as Austrian Christian Walder, wearing bib number one, missed a tight turn high up the course.

He was promptly followed by Switzerland's alpine combined medal hope Loic Meillard and then Mauro Caviezel, winner of last year's super-G crystal globe on the World Cup circuit and among the favourites in Cortina, deprived of fans because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"I watched the guys performing with bibs 1, 2, 3 and they all missed the gate," said Kriechmayr.

"So it was a really tough race for me."

There was also nearly a late turn in fate as first unheralded Frenchman Matthieu Bailet and then Canadian Brodie Seger, defying their lowly start numbers of 26 and 28, scorched down the course to give the race leaders butterflies.

Bailet eventually ended up in seventh, just behind Mayer, while Seger was only four-hundredths of a second off a podium spot in an impressive fourth place.