Kildow earns coveted silver in super G
One solid super G run Tuesday, and the monkey is finally off Lindsey Kildow’s back.
Two years after crumbling under the pressure and finishing fourth three times at the last Alpine Skiing World Championships in Bormio, Italy, Kildow answered her critics and won her first major championship medal in Åre, Sweden.
The 22-year-old Ski Club Vail alumna ” who came back from a horrific crash in downhiil training to race at last year’s Winter Olympics ” finished second to home favorite Anja Paerson in Tuesday’s women’s super G, rescheduled after three days of foul weather.
“I’m really happy to get it out of the way,” Kildow told reporters on a conference call from Sweden. “It was definitely heavy [pressure]. It wasn’t necessarily from myself. I felt like I was getting a lot of pressure from people who said, ‘You need to start getting some medals at the bigger games.’ I think people thought that I couldn’t do it, that I was too stressed-out, too nervous … Now everyone knows I’m fine. I can do it.”
Paerson, winless on the World Cup circuit this season after knee surgery last spring, won the women’s race in 1 minute, 18.85 seconds. Kildow, who hit 62 mph, was second in 1:19.17. Renate Goetschl of Austria, who has dominated the event this season with victories in three of the five World Cup super G races, won bronze in 1:19.38.
At the previous World Championships, Kildow ” a seven-time winner on the World Cup circuit ” said a media horde and high expectations caught her off guard. It was also widely reported that she struggled with the unexpected appearance of her father, Alan, a former ski racer who moved the family to Vail from Minnesota when Kildow showed promise as a young racer.
“The last World [Championships], it was my first one,” said Kildow, who told the Denver Post before last year’s World Cup season that she and her father were no longer on speaking terms. “We had a huge press conference, and there were so many questions about, ‘Are you going to win?’ I hadn’t thought about it until the press put it in my head. For the Olympics, and these World Championships, I’ve done no interviews the day before the race. I just try not to think about the distractions, the crowd, the expectations.”
Kildow said some of her own personal motivation this past offseason came from the perceptions that she couldn’t win big races. Her teammate Julia Mancuso hadn’t won a single World Cup race before two bronze medals at the previous World Championships. Mancuso ” who finished sixth Tuesday ” also won last year’s Olympic giant slalom, but didn’t stand atop a World Cup podium until this season.
“It had something to do with it,” Kildow said. “I felt like she was getting the name of a big-event racer. I was kind of out of that picture. No one really thought that I could do it, but I believed in myself.”
Frustration marked Kildow’s Olympics after the crash. She was airlifted off the mountain and spent the night in a Turin hospital. She came back and competed in all four of her events ” downhill, combined, super G and slalom ” but pain limited her performance, and her best result was seventh in the super G.
“To be honest, all summer I was thinking about the Olympics and about getting revenge,” Kildow said. “I wanted to ski well this season and ski well at the World Championships. The hard work has paid off. I’ve matured so much in the last two years. … The more big events you compete in, the more it just becomes part of the routine.”
Libby Ludlow was the third American woman to crack the top 10 Tuesday, finishing ninth.
Mancuso had a scare, soaring too far on the last big jump to land on the tails of her skis.
“I was a little haggard up there,” she told The Associated Press. “I don’t know why I always have to catch more air than everyone. I wasn’t feeling 100 percent today, but I really tried to push through it, mentally. I feel like I did a good job. There was just those couple of places where I needed to be on it, and I wasn’t.”
In Tuesday’s men’s race, Italian Patrick Staudacher benefited from an early start number to cover the Olympia course ” shortened because of heavy snow on the upper section ” in 1:14.30. Austrian Fritz Strobl took silver in 1:14.62. Switzerland’s Bruno Kernen was third in 1:14.92.
American medal favorite Bode Miller took a lot of risks on the upper section, then lost almost half a second when he hit a gate with his shoulder on the bottom of the course and finished 24th.
“That’s how skiing goes. I risked it all, and I lost,” Miller said before quickly leaving the finish area.
Miller won the super G here at last year’s World Cup finals, and has won two of the three super G races so far this World Cup season.
“He said he was pushing the line hard and then made a big mistake and got his arm hooked up,” said U.S. men’s head coach Phil McNichol. “In super G, especially on a shortened course, you can’t afford gross errors and getting caught up in a panel and dumping all your speed.”
Steven Nyman was 12th, the top U.S. men’s result, but still covered his head with his hands upon seeing his time.
“We fell short across the board today,” McNichol said. “It would’ve been nice to come out and have a big race the first day and use that momentum. Our guys just didn’t execute to their ability today.”
Downhill training is slated for today. The men race the super-combi Thursday and the women do so on Friday.
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U.S. Ski & Snowboard on Tuesday made the official announcement that World Cup Alpine skiing is returning to Aspen Mountain in March with men’s super-G and downhill racing, part of a revamped schedule by the International Ski Federation for the 2022-23 season.