Streitberger wins super G at Beaver Creek
December 4, 2010
BEAVER CREEK, Colo. – A tricky section of the course tripped up most of the best U.S. skiers.
Not so for the Austrians, who are quickly regaining their skiing prominence.
Georg Streitberger of Austria captured a World Cup super G race Saturday when Bode Miller and three other top Americans skied off the course.
Streitberger finished the demanding Birds of Prey run in 1 minute, 17.18 seconds, edging Adrien Theaux of France by 0.11 seconds. Didier Cuche of Switzerland was third.
“It was a perfect day for me,” Streitberger said.
Hardly a perfect day for the Americans.
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Miller, who won silver in the super G at the Vancouver Games, had trouble finding the right line near a technical turn midway through the run and veered straight off the course.
It was a common theme as Americans Andrew Weibrecht, Marco Sullivan and Ted Ligety also failed to make it through the difficult section of the hill.
“It’s not that sweet, obviously on our home hill,” Ligety said. “I think a lot of us think this is the coolest super G hill in the World Cup and we’re all really excited to have a good day, so it’s definitely a bummer.”
A bummer for the Americans was a banner day for the Austrians.
Last season, everyone was wondering what was wrong with Austria after the men were shut out of the medals on the slopes in Vancouver. The skiers also reached the top step of the podium just once in the speed events – a super G competition – during the World Cup season.
Quite a crash for a country that cherishes skiing.
But Austria has recaptured its form, with Michael Walchhofer winning a downhill race in Lake Louise, Alberta, last weekend and Streitberger coming through in the super G at Beaver Creek.
“We are all together faster than last year,” Streitberger said. “This was good.”
On the challenging course Saturday, the Austrians put together a dominating game plan as seven skiers finished in the top 15.
“Sometimes you have to ski with the brain and put on the brakes,” Streitberger said.
Or risk going down.
The U.S. team had a strategy of its own for the grinding section of the course that took out so many members of the squad, but it didn’t go quite as expected.
“I think it was a case of too much intensity today,” Sullivan said. “We just didn’t give the course enough respect.”
Miller was turning in a classic run, hunched over his skis and charging down the course. But when Miller reached the section known as Screech Owl, he hit a bump and couldn’t recover, skidding across the course.
After his run, Miller sent a report back to the start gate.
Apparently, it didn’t help his teammates as most made the same mistake in almost the same spot.
“Bode’s report said to really move well over the terrain before it – there’s kind of a roll-in – and I felt like I did that,” Weibrecht said. “Somewhere in between I maybe didn’t get enough depth into the turn where I could bring it back at the right angle.”
Weibrecht was far from alone. Sullivan and Ligety, who also were starting in the top 30, failed to negotiate the same section. American Chris Frank, the 55th skier in the 69-racer field, also did not finish after going out near that spot.
“If you want to be fast in super G, you have to be in the fine line of making it or not,” Ligety said. “We were on the wrong side of that line.”
Steven Nyman was the top U.S. finisher in 25th place, earning his first World Cup points in the super G in two years. With his finish, the Americans also picked up another starting spot in the super G for the rest of the season.
One of the few boons on a bad day.
“I’m really stoked about Steven,” U.S. men’s coach Sasha Rearick said.
The day ended the reign of Swiss skier Carlo Janka at Beaver Creek. He swept all three events last season, but finished 23rd Saturday.
“A lot of mistakes today. Not a good run for me,” Janka said. “I can’t expect that every year will work like last year.”
The World Cup stop at Beaver Creek will conclude Sunday with a giant slalom. A downhill race scheduled for Friday was canceled because of high wind. There’s no makeup date or venue yet for that race.
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