By Lisa Antonucci
Austrian Vincent Kriechmayr grabbed his first World Cup Super G win on Friday with a time of 1:09.71 at the Birds of Prey Audi FIS World Cup race week at Beaver Creek. He was joined on the podium by Norwegian Kjetil Jansrud in second place and fellow Austrian Hannes Reichelt in third.
“I’m absolutely proud of today, I’m really happy. It has never happened before and hopefully it’s not the last time,” said Kriechmayr, who had three previous podium finishes in World Cup Super G events. He noted he is particularly fond of the Birds of Prey course, having earned his first World Cup Super G points here in 2013 and a top 10 finish in 2015. “The [Beaver Creek] Super G is one of the toughest Super G’s in the world, and it looks that the Super G also likes me.”
Kriechmayr noted he was happy with his attacking strategy, but also praised the course crew for delivering a top-notch track. “You always have to attack, you will never win without attacking,” he said. “The slope conditions are really good; they made a great chop. This race was not easy, but the slope was really good … It was almost a perfect run. You will never win with a good run, but it was a really good run.”
For Jansrud, the reigning Olympic Super G gold medalist and winner at last week’s Super G in Lake Louise, finishing second was positive reinforcement.
“Somehow with getting the stamp of the favorite and winning the first race, people expect you to keep it going, but it’s not that easy,” explained Jansrud, who has 10 World Cup Super G wins under his belt. “As you see today, it was a tight race and it’s a difficult hill for Super G, and I’m happy with finishing second. It’s a great start to the year and I’m feeling confident, so I’ll bring that in for tomorrow’s downhill for sure.”
It was the 19th World Cup Super G podium for Reichelt, who has won at Beaver Creek four times including at the 2015 FIS World Ski Championships.
“Somebody said it’s my living room here, but I think it was always Hermann Meier’s living room here, and for me maybe on the Super G side it’s close to a living room,” said Reichelt. “The conditions have been pretty good. If you knew what the weather was in the past – great respect to the guys who made that great chop, the great slope. Every time when you come to Beaver Creek you know the slope conditions are so perfect. I like it here. The snow this year is not so aggressive as when it’s pretty cold, but I think there is a good vibration between the course or the snow here and me.”
It was a lackluster day for the Americans, who did not have a finisher in the top 20. Team veteran Andrew Weibrecht, who was on the podium in 2015, finished 21st for USA’s best finish. Ted Ligety, in just his third start since back surgery this past January, skied out early and did not finish. Steven Nymann, who had knee surgery also in January, was a forerunner for Friday’s race and is planning on making his first competition start in the downhill on Saturday.
Looking ahead to Saturday’s downhill, all three of Friday’s top finishers said they have something to prove in Beaver Creek.
Kreichmayr has 10 top-10 finishes in downhill, but has yet to crack the top 10 at Birds of Prey. He finished 14 in 2015. “We have a really good team and I hope I can beat Hannes again and then it would be a good result tomorrow,” he said.
Reichelt has six World Cup downhill wins and four top-10 finishes at Birds of Prey including a podium in 2013. But he’s got his sights set on something more: “I have not had so much success in DH here, so that is a black point on my to-do list, to do it better tomorrow – that’s the goal.”
Jansrud has been on the podium four times in the downhill at Beaver Creek, including two wins at Birds of Prey in 2014 and in the downhill portion of the combined at World Championships in 2015. He has eight World Cup downhill wins.
“Definitely the Norwegians have not been as fast in training as in previous years, so we have to step it up,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll pull out a few secrets for tomorrow and be back in the game.”
Race week continues Saturday with the Birds of Prey downhill at 11 a.m. MT.
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