Austrian skier Mayer defends super-G title at Olympics, Cochran-Siegle takes silver
The Associated Press
BEIJING — Austrian skier Matthias Mayer defended his title in the super-G on Tuesday at the Beijing Games and added a third Olympic gold medal to his collection.
Mayer, who was the 13th of 47 racers to start on The Rock course, raised his ski pole in the air after he crossed the line and then faced an anxious wait. His time was almost beaten by the very next skier.
Ryan Cochran-Siegle, an American who is from Vermont, came down next and finished a mere 0.04 seconds behind Mayer for silver.
“He was really good. I was nervous for sure,” Mayer said. “He did really well. It was a close race.”
Cochran-Siegle’s silver medal came almost 50 years to the day after his mother, Barbara Ann, won gold in the slalom at the 1972 Sapporo Games.
“What’s up, Vermont? Hope that holds,” the 29-year-old Cochran-Siegle said after crossing the finish line.
Mayer broke Norway’s 16-year grip on the men’s Olympic super-G title when he won gold at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games. That was four years after he won the downhill title at the Sochi Olympics.
The 31-year-old Mayer also earned bronze on Monday in the rescheduled downhill race. Swiss rival Beat Fuez won that event but skied out near the top in Tuesday’s race.
“Yesterday the bronze medal gave me a real push for today,” Mayer said. “I was very focused today and free in my mind.”
World Cup super-G leader Aleksander Aamodt Kilde of Norway finished third, 0.42 behind Mayer.
Kilde was seventh to start and was ecstatic when he crossed the line and saw he had beaten the time set by the previous leader — Alexis Pinturault — by one second.
“I though I was going to win, of course,” Kilde said with a laugh. “When you come in one second ahead, on Olympics, new course … then two guys came in, in front, and that’s totally fine because they skied like champions. This third place is a victory for me.”
Marco Odermatt of Switzerland was among the favorites but he lost control on a turn and went out shortly before the end of the course. Odermatt was slower than Kilde at the final checkpoint.
The 24-year-old Odermatt put his hands over his helmet as he skied down and then put his head on the barrier near the finish line. Odermatt, who is skiing in his first Olympics, finished seventh in the downhill.
“I took the risk what was definitely needed to have the chance for a medal. And yeah, the very last turn was too much … one mistake and the race is over,” Odermatt said. “It’s the Olympic Games, just the medal counts, so maybe you’re taking a little bit more risk than usual in the World Cup for fifth place or some important points. Here it comes back nothing.”
It’s only the second time Odermatt has failed to finish a super-G race since his debut in the World Cup in 2018.
Kilde and Odermatt have dominated the super-G this season. Kilde has won three of the five World Cup races in the discipline to lead the standings over Odermatt, who has won the other two. Mayer is third in the standings.
There are no training runs in super-G, so the only time skiers see the course-set before they start is during inspection on the morning of the race. Skiers that can visualize the quickest racing line better than others gain an advantage.
That was particularly true Tuesday because it was the first time the world’s top skiers had competed in a super-G on the course. Test events on The Rock were canceled over the last two years amid the pandemic.
Kilde is still seeking his first win in a major championship. He was fifth in Monday’s downhill in what was then his highest finish in eight Olympic starts.
“Yesterday was a tough day,” Kilde said. “Mostly because I came in as a favorite and I had a lot of pressure on my shoulders and also pressure to myself to deliver and I felt like I didn’t ski well enough yesterday so that was what made it the most disappointing part of it.
“Today when I could go back and just reset and deliver a solid run and take my first championship medal, it’s incredible. It’s really a good feeling.”
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