Norwegian downhill ski star Aksel Lund Svindal all but threw away his lead at the World Cup finals in Lenzerheide in Switzerland on Thursday. He garnered no points at all for his 16th place finish in the super-G, his worst placing in three years.
“I was not good enough,” Svindal told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “I made mistakes and I knew it would not be good enough. It’s not unusual in the finals that it’s different, although I had not thought it would happen to me.”
Before the race Svindal ranked first in the World Cup standings with a 41 point lead on his main rival, Marcel Hirscher. The Austrian finished 12th in the super-G, putting him just 19 points behind Svindal on the overall leader board. Hirscher specializes in the giant slalom and slalom races coming up on Saturday and Sunday, and on Thursday Svindal ruled out competing in Sunday’s event.
Despite holding onto the lead, the 31-year-old was resigned to the fact his World Cup chances hung on Hirscher bombing out in his pet events. “Now I am dependent on others,” he said. “In that sense it’s over.” The disappointment followed a lacklustre display by Svindal at the Sochi Olympics last month, but on Wednesday he was thrilled to win the overall season downhill title.
Hirscher told NRK he had hoped to clinch a few minor points in the super-G, but had never imagined placing higher than Svindal. “No one had anticipated such a result,” the 25-year-old said. “It’s incredible. Svindal went well in the first half of the track, but then he made a mistake. I am totally surprised that Aksel fell behind me.”
Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud finished in eighth place, putting him in sixth position on the leader board. “It is far below par on Aksel’s part, and also for me, today,” he told NRK. “It’s something we couldn’t handle. We need to do everyone a favour and forget about it a bit, because we are the best speed racers in the world. That’s a fact.” Jansrud, who overcame a knee injury at the start of the season, said he’s now looking forward to next winter’s competition.
France’s Alexis Pinturaul placed first in the super-G, ahead of countryman Thomas Mermillod Blondin and American Bode Miller. It put Pinturault in third position on the leader board with 919 points, behind Hirscher on 1072 and Svindal on 1091.