Instant replay: Switzerland’s Gut repeats

Chris Freud
Vail Daily
Switzerland's Lara Gut waves to fans in the finish area Saturday. The 22-year-old won her second consecutive speed race at Beaver Creek, taking the World Super super-G. She won the downhill Friday.
Charles Krupa/AP | AP

BEAVER CREEK — It wasn’t a surprise that Switzerland’s Lara Gut won Saturday’s women’s World Cup super-G on the Raptor race course at Beaver Creek.

The surprise was how.

She caught the edges of her skis twice and appeared off balance coming out of the start.

“It’s just when you like the slope, everything feels easier,” Gut said. “In super-G, like I said (Friday), you can be fast, but it’s easy … to fall out. You saw it. I was fast, but it was easy that I (could have been) out.”

Yet, somehow she came out of the first split not only in the green, but a whopping 0.46 seconds up to that point.

Gut, 22, cruised from there for her second win in as many days — she’s 3-for-3 in her World Cup starts so far this year with her win in the Soelden, Austria, giant slalom in October — topping Anna Fenninger (0.92 seconds) and Nicole Hosp (1.11). Fellow Austrian Elizabeth Goergl was originally in second place, but was disqualified for the width of her skis being too wide in front of her bindings after the race.

So how much are you enjoying your stay at Beaver Creek, Lara?

“A lot,” she said with a laugh. “I think with two wins I can’t say different.”

Gut goes for the triple in today’s giant slalom, which has runs at 9:45 a.m. and 12:45 p.m., at Beaver Creek.

Only two racers have won three events during a weekend at Beaver Creek — both men on Birds of Prey — Switzerland’s Carlo Janka in 2009 and Austrian legend Hermann Maier in November of 1999.

Gut said she had difficulty with the course set, which was done by the Germans. And to those watching, it looked like her streak was over, but for a recovery which was Bode Miller-like circa 2005 in his GS win.

“The start until the first split, I had some problems,” Gut said. “My skis, I was too aggressive on them. I had to understand how to ski. The snow had changed. The skis were different. The course, of course, was not the same as (Friday). After that, I understand what I have to do. From the first split to the finish, I skied how I wanted to ski.”

While Gut continues to downplay her hot start, these are sweet times, especially in an Olympic year. Before the 2009-10 season, she seemed ready for the Vancouver Olympics. She dislocated her hip during training and her year was done before it started.

In the press corral Saturday, she told a story about rehab, when she did leg lifts for a half hour and then had to sleep for two hours afterward because it was so excruciating. The day of the Olympic downhill in 2010 was ironically her first day back on snow.

As for today’s GS, “I’m going to sleep, and it will be fine,” she said.

While Gut understandably has been grabbing the headlines at Beaver Creek and during the early going of the season, Fenninger is quietly putting together a good campaign.

The Austrian is second in the overall with 175 points behind Gut (300).

She was fifth in the downhill Friday and added silver in super-G Saturday.

“It was a difficult inspection because there were many waves,” she said. “You could not see the (next) gate. You have to know where are the gates, and it’s by yourself that you know it.”

Fenninger had a good start, but said she lost time in the middle. She did, however, get a scouting report from her coaches.

“Our coaches are standing on the course, and they see how to go,” she said. “They were saying just a little bit in the middle part, there are the waves and you have to go with the waves. That’s an important part.”

Hosp thought she finished fourth, but ended up on the podium after Goergl’s disqualification.

“For me, it’s nice to be on the podium,” the 2007 overall champ said. “I was really sorry (for) Elisabeth. The rules, they are here. You have to be inside the rules. She was not …, so I’m lucky (Saturday).”

Hosp has struggled with injuries, and that has translated into poor starting positions. In Saturday’s super-G, she had the unenviable wearing bib No. 1.

“It was not easy for me to ski No. 1 because it’s a really difficult slope,” Hosp said. “Everybody wants to watch somebody before (they go). It’s not easy with all the rolls. It’s so turny, and there’s a lot of sun and shadow. I was very happy.”

Hosp’s last super-G podium was way back on Jan. 20, 2008, in Cortina, Italy.