Victory evaded Norwegian downhill racer and gold medal favorite Aksel Lund Svindal at the Super-G alpine skiing World Championship on Wednesday. He was still pleased to make the podium, though, securing bronze after tough conditions and a skid close to the finish robbed him of a higher placing.
After a blistering start to his run in Schladming, Austria, Svindal had trouble at one of the last gates. He said that was probably the moment that cost him the chance of a higher placing. “At least the silver medal disappeared there,” Svindal told state broadcaster NRK. “But it is not an easy race.”
American Ted Ligety had a great finish and won the event in 1 minute, 23.96 seconds. Gauthier De Tessieres of France was 0.20 seconds back and Svindal a further 0.02 seconds back in third.
“I took risks all the way. Ted managed the whole race without errors. I didn’t,” Svindal told NRK.
The skier told news channel TV2 Sporten that he was pleased with a bronze medal, especially considering the tough conditions and his error towards the end.
The best skiers are drawn to race between numbers 16 and 22, which was no advantage in Schladming, according to commentators. Svindal was the only one among that group to win a medal, starting at number 22. “I would have liked to have started at 16,” Svindal said, adding that he would not blame his draw on missing gold. Many commentators said it was a big advantage to start early. Winner Ted Ligety, for example, started at number 10.
His bronze was Svindal’s 10th career medal in major championships, his big breakthrough coming six years ago in Åre, Sweden, when he won gold in both the Super-G and Downhill.
The affable and highly respected Svindal is considered the best downhill skier in Norway and is commonly referred to as the “golden boy.” Kjetil André Aamodt, the most decorated Norwegian alpine skier ever, won 20 medals at the World Championships and Olympics, nine of which were gold. Lasse Kjus won a total of 16 medals, and Svindal is now breathing down the necks of these heroes of the 1990s. In world championships alone, Aamodt has won five gold, Svindal four and Kjus three, noted newspaper Dagbladet.
Svindal still had a chance to overhaul Aamodt’s total if he managed to land two more gold medals in other events in Schladming.
Views and News from Norway/Aasa Christine Stoltz
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