Josef Ferstl wins super-G in Italy to end German drought in speed events
December 15, 2017
SELVA DI VAL GARDENA, Italy — Early starter Josef Ferstl put down a nearly flawless run in a fog-interrupted super-G on Friday to become the first German man to win a World Cup speed event in 13 years.
Wearing the No. 2 bib, Ferstl required slightly more than 1 1/2 minutes to negotiate the Saslong course and finished a slim 0.02 seconds ahead of Max Franz of Austria.
Olympic downhill champion Matthias Mayer of Austria came third, 0.10 behind, despite a big mistake.
"It was really a great run but I was a little bit lucky with the weather," Ferstl said.
Ferstl's father, Sepp, won the Hahnenkamm downhill in Kitzbuehel, Austria, in 1978 and '79.
"Two wins in Kitzbuehel remains a dream for me," Ferstl said.
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The previous German man to win a speed race — downhill or super-G — was Max Rauffer in a downhill on the Saslong in 2004. In super-G, the German drought had stretched all the way back to 1991, when Markus Wasmeier won in Lake Louise, Alberta.
"It's unbelievable: A victory for a German guy," Ferstl said.
Later starters struggled as the fog set in. Following numerous delays and interruptions, the race was stopped because of the low visibility after only 38 of 80 racers were able to start their runs. Only lower-ranked skiers were prevented from competing.
Aksel Lund Svindal finished ninth, and Norwegian teammate Kjetil Jansrud was 35th after a major mistake midway down. Svindal and Jansrud had won the last five super-G's in Val Gardena, with Svindal taking a record four.
Still, Jansrud remained at the top of the super-G standings, six and eight points ahead of Vincent Kriechmayr and Franz, respectively.
Henrik Kristoffersen, a Norwegian technical specialist who does not race the speed events, held on to the overall World Cup lead, 11 points ahead of six-time defending champion Marcel Hirscher and Svindal.
It's been a revival season for the Germans, with Thomas Dressen finishing third in a downhill in Beaver Creek, Colorado, earlier this month for the team's first speed podium since Rauffer's victory.
Andreas Sander, another German, has had three straight top 10 results in the speed events, including sixth Friday.
"The podium of Thomas in Beaver Creek really triggered something," Ferstl said. "We realized we could reach the podium."
While Germany has had a standout slalom skier in Felix Neureuther, and Maria Hoefl-Riesch and Viktoria Rebensburg have been highly successful for the women's team, the men's speed squad had lacked consistent success since Wasmeier's achievements in the 1980s and 90s.
Wasmeier swept the super-G and giant slalom at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics and also had nine World Cup victories in his career.
Also, Hansjoerg Tauscher won the downhill at the 1989 world championships in Vail, Colorado.
The classic downhill is scheduled for Saturday in Val Gardena, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary of World Cup racing.