Norway duo go 1-2 in men’s super-G

Graham Dunbar
The Associated Press
Norway's Kjetil Jansrud celebrates at the finish area of an alpine ski, mens' World Cup Super G race, in Val d'Isere, France, Friday, Dec. 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Giovanni Auletta)

VAL D’ISERE, France — It was another great day for Norway in the first men’s speed race of the season with Kjetil Jansrud and Aksel Lund Svindal finishing 1-2 in a super-G on Friday.

Svindal, back racing 10 months after sustaining a serious knee injury, was 0.17 seconds slower than Jansrud, the Olympic champion in super-G. Jansrud won in 1 minute, 21.66 seconds.

“I’m very surprised,” said Svindal, who has had only three weeks of top-level training since rupturing his right ACL in a downhill at Kitzbuehel, Austria. “I was fairly nervous but what can you do? Just try your best, right.”

Svindal punched the air with both fists when he posted the fastest time as the fifth starter. Jansrud went down two racers later and topped it.

“To pull off a double victory is quite extraordinary,” said Jansrud, the favorite for the marquee downhill on Saturday. “It was a pretty emotional day for both of us.”

Dominik Paris of Italy was third, 0.41 behind Jansrud, on a course setting that suited downhill specialists. They had ideal racing conditions until the sun dipped behind the mountains.

A stellar Norway men’s team earned 19 wins last season and got its first this season in the third race.

The team has dominated in super-G with three different Norwegians — Svindal, Jansrud and Aleksander Aamodt Kilde — combining to win the past five season-long titles in the discipline.

Svindal said their high standards in training helped him return at such a high level.

“I have the best teammates in the world,” the two-time overall World Cup winner said. “Without my team, I would have no chance.”

Still, the 33-year-old Svindal has defied serious injury throughout his career to return just as strong and fast.

After sustaining multiple injuries in a wipeout in Beaver Creek, Colorado, in November 2007, Svindal came back the next season to win his second overall title.

He did not race in the 2014-15 World Cup because of an Achilles injury, yet returned to dominate last season by winning four of five downhills. Svindal led the overall standings when he crashed in the classic Kitzbuehel race.

“I think a lot of it is mental strength,” Svindal said. “A lot of it is being relaxed about it. What happens, happens. Just make the best of the situation.”

The men’s circuit made an early return to Europe after losing two weekends in North America — in Beaver Creek and Lake Louise, Canada — because of a lack of snow.

Val d’Isere stepped in to take the super-G, downhill and giant slalom races scheduled for Beaver Creek.

Two American racers posted impressive results despite starting after the sunshine mostly disappeared. Travis Ganong, wearing No. 27, placed seventh, 0.75 behind Jansrud. From starting 61st, Ryan Cochran-Siegle took a career-best 15th place, 1.24 back.

Cochran-Siegle had not raced a World Cup super-G since the 2013 world championships in Schladming, Austria. There, the Vermont native suffered a serious knee injury.

“That was an amazing performance,” United States head coach Sasha Rearick said of Cochran-Siegle’s return. “He has had many operations, major operations. I’m super proud of him.”

The powerful Austria team struggled, with 10th-place Max Franz its best finisher.

Austrian officials had pushed for a new way of deciding the starting order in speed races, and it was used for the first time Friday.

The 10 best-ranked super-G racers chose their bib number in order among the odd numbers 1 through 19. The next 10 ranked picked from the even numbers.

Kilde, the defending World Cup super-G champion, picked No. 3, ahead of Jansrud then Svindal. They proved smart choices as the top five finishers all started between Nos. 4 and 11.